Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, has been central to Scottish life and its history over the centuries and has much to celebrate. It is the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, the supreme courts of Scotland, many national institutions, and a major educational, medical and financial centre. The city’s Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland.

It is a city that evokes strong reactions. Queen Victoria considered Edinburgh to be ‘quite enchanting and fairy-like’. It was Sir Walter Scott’s ‘own romantic town’, Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘dream in masonry and living rock’ and Hugh MacDiarmid’s ‘mad god’s dream’. Samuel Johnson thought it ‘would make a good prison in England’ and more ominously Dr Joseph Goebbels considered it ‘enchanting – a delightful summer capital when we invade Britain’.

Edinburgh
Hogmanay Fireworks over Edinburgh. (Celebrating Edinburgh, Amberley Publishing)

Edinburgh’s wealth of architectural heritage is reflected in the number of buildings recognised as being of historic or architectural importance – around 5,000 items comprising more than 30,000 separate buildings, the greatest concentration of heritage properties in Scotland. These range in scale from the massive Forth Bridge to the diminutive statue of Greyfriars Bobby, and in age from the twelfth century to the late twentieth century.

The Old Town retains much of its medieval character and the Georgian New Town, with its regular facades and major neoclassical buildings, by architects of the stature of Robert Adam, is one of the world’s most extensive examples of neoclassical town planning. The contrast and proximity between these two distinct areas resulted in the accolade of World Heritage status in 1995.

Edinburgh’s numerous festivals attract visitors from all over the world and its eminent scientists, engineers, philosophers and writers are internationally renowned.

Jack Gillon and Fraser Parkinson's book Celebrating Edinburgh is available for purchase now.