Wellington Travel Guide
Edinburgh, the glorious capital of Scotland and spearhead of the Scottish Enlightenment, is a city of science and literature and all things Scottish – think Scotch on the Rocks, Prince Charles in a kilt, Harris Tweed, Tony Blair, 19th-century body snatchers Burke and Hare, the world's most celebrated split-personality Deacon Brodie who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and "Dolly the sheep," which was famously cloned here in 1996 and now resides in the city's National Museum of Scotland, albeit as a stuffed carcass. But seriously, Edinburgh is a magnificent city, among the most elegant in the world, with handsome buildings inlaid with checkerboard stonework, in muted tones of brown and grey, its skyline punctuated with soaring spires and dominated by the historic Edinburgh Castle which sits majestically atop a dark volcanic rock. The city unfolds in two parts: a medieval Old Town crammed with tall, narrow tenements along winding alleyways known as wynds; and a New Town, unmistakably Georgian, with symmetrical blocks of spacious, 18th-century homes, set upon straight, wide streets. The city also has four universities of standing, and is a UNESCO City of Literature to boot, one of only four such cities in the world.
Edinburgh is situated by the Firth of Forth in the region of Scotland, on the northeast coast of the United Kingdom, some 51 miles (82 km) east of Glasgow, or 332 miles (535 km) north of London.
Edinburgh's top draws are of course its 12th-century fortress-like Edinburgh Castle on Castle Rock, which has in it Scotland's famous "Stone of Destiny"; and the Royal Mile, the city's oldest street and the hub of its tourist and festival activity, which runs a full mile through the heart of Old Town, from Edinburgh Castle to the 12th-century Palace of Holyroodhouse (the Queen's official residence in Scotland) – the two royal bookends that give the "Royal Mile" its name. Other priorities include St. Giles' Cathedral with its exquisite stained-glass windows; Princes Street Gardens in the center of the city, which separate the old and new towns; charming Dean Village on the Water of Leith; the impressive oak-and-granite Scottish Parliament Building; and Princes Street, the city's main shopping street. The city also has scores of good museums and galleries, and in August each year, it celebrates with bells and whistles the Edinburgh Festival, the largest arts festival in the world.
Edinburgh's nightlife is centered principally on George Street in the New Town, a vibrant strip that is literally packed with clubs, bars and pubs. Among the top picks are the Opal Lounge and the Lulu, Po Na Na and Why Not clubs, all with lively dance floors. As for bars, there are a ton to choose from, although Tiger Lily is arguably the most popular of the lot.
Edinburgh has no dearth of famous sons and daughters. Among them: biologist-cum-evolutionist Charles Darwin, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, creator of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, political economist Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations), writers Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe) and Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island), the first James Bond of film Sean Connery, Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson, "Dolly the sheep" cloners Colin Maclaurin and Ian Wilmut, and Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting. J.K. Rowlings, creator and author of the Harry Potter series, actually wrote the first of the Potter books here, at the Elephant House Café on George IV Bridge.
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