Edinburgh (World Heritage)

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and best preserved cities in Europe. It is the political and cultural center of Scotland and extends between several volcanic hills. The inner city creates a harmonious connection between the medieval old town and the neoclassical new town of the 18th century. The city is dominated by the 11th century fortress and the Saint Margaret chapel. Other significant monuments include the Saint Giles Cathedral, Holyrood Palace, the former residence of the Scottish kings, the Esplanade Royal Mile, the Lawnmarket and the High Street.

Edinburgh: facts

Official title: Edinburgh
Cultural monument: the “Queen of the Cities of Scotland” with the neo-classical, 0.3 km² New Town north of Prince Street Gardens and the Old Town between Castle and Holyrood House; Listed buildings such as Edinburgh Castle on the 135 m high volcanic rock, St. Giles Cathedral, Holyrood Abbey and Holyrood House, the Royal Mile between the castle and the palace Holyrood House, now the Esplanade, Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate called: Lawnmarket with the six-storey merchant house Gladstone’s Land, High Street with the heart-shaped mosaic “Hearth of Midlothian” and the John Knox House as well as Canongate with Canongate Tolbooth, formerly the town hall and prison of the city
Continent: Europe
Country: Great Britain, Scotland
Location: Edinburgh
Appointment: 1995
Meaning: the old town, dominated by a medieval festival, and the neoclassical new town of the 18th century as the two opposing and yet harmonious faces of a town

Edinburgh: history

1057-93 under King Malcolm III. Canmore construction of a fortification
around 1090 Foundation of St. Margaret’s Chapel of the Castle
1128 Holyrood Abbey Foundation
1387-1495 Construction of St. Giles Cathedral
around 1500 Construction of Holyrood House begins
1544 and 1547 Destruction of the city by the troops of Henry VIII.
1568-71 unsuccessful English siege of the castle
after 1617 Remodeling of Gladstone’s Land
1767 James Craig planned the first New Town
1791 Charlotte Square complex
1802 Planning the second New Town
1822 Visit of King George IV and “reconciliation” between England and Scotland
1988 in the European Year of Environmental Protection Award for the exemplary restoration of the New Town

The Athens of the North

According to ethnicityology, the historic center of Edinburgh, a city in which the architecture has been perfectly combined with the landscape, exudes an extraordinary charm. This can best be paraphrased in the words of the essayist Alexander Smith: “In Edinburgh, above all, a sense of the city’s beauty lives on. Hills and rugged rock, a castle, the picturesque ‘backbone’ of Old Town, the squares and rows of houses on elevated streets in the New Town are so easy to forget, once seen. «The nickname» Athens of the North «does not include only an appreciation of the neoclassical architecture and the location of the city characterized by small rock heights, but also recognition for the intellectual spirit that animates the city.

The forces of nature have struggled with the landscape Edinburgh is nestled in. A huge glacier abraded softer rock around the old volcanic hills and over time formed a landscape of rocky cliffs that seemed ideally suited for the construction of a simple defensive structure. So Edinburgh, which emerged in prehistoric times, remained nothing more than a populated rock with fortifications for hundreds of years.

The actual city developed only after Holyrood Abbey was donated in the 12th century. According to tradition, which is part of the history of the foundation of this abbey, King David I is said to have been thrown from the saddle by a stag while hunting. When the king was on the ground, the “king of the forest” tried to kill him. Even if the king was wounded, he still succeeded in grasping the cross which – it seemed to be a miracle – appeared between the stag’s antlers. When this happened, the attacker let go of his victim. In gratitude for his miraculous salvation, the king promptly arranged for the Abbey of the Holy Cross to be built.

The historic heart of the city, in its planning and layout consciously adapted to the surroundings, clings to a “rock tail” as it were and extends from Castle Rock to the abbey and the palace of Holyrood House, Scotland’s most noble royal residence. The old town is dominated by the largely unchanged medieval street network, resembling the pattern of herringbones, which is characterized by short, enclosed dead ends and narrow squares and alleys that lead away from the Royal Mile. No less typical of the old town are the residences of rich merchants and noblemen, built in the 16th and 17th centuries, but also important public buildings such as Canongate Tolbooth and St. Giles Cathedral.

For centuries, the old town was limited in its expansion due to the girding by city walls. It grew “in the depths, stacked and massive, tightly packed and high,” as the famous Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott put it in his poem “Marmom”. In 1767, according to the plan of the architect James Craig, New Town was to be built to cope with the overcrowding in the medieval city. Following a network plan, the new town was consistently laid out symmetrically and equipped with wide streets and townhouses in a standardized design. The newly emerging quarters of the neoclassical city received a uniform building made of sandstone, some of which was designed by the star architect Robert Adam at the time. The regular pattern of the streets Squares and crescent-shaped paths with interspersed formal gardens determine the urban layout to the present day. The north side of Charlotte Square in First New Town is widely regarded as an Adams masterpiece. The Georgian House, which has been restored by the National Trust of Scotland and reflects the zeitgeist of the Georgian era in a special way, is also located here.

Edinburgh (World Heritage)