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This article is about . For , see Edinburgh (disambiguation).
File:Edinburgh (location).png
Edinburgh's location in Scotland
File:Wfm edinburgh.jpg
Edinburgh viewed from Arthur's Seat. See also this picture for a panoramic view from Holyrood Park towards Ocean Terminal.
File:Princes Street Gardens.jpg
Looking east across part of Princes Street Gardens, the monument to Sir Walter Scott is prominent in the background to the left. The North British Hotel (renamed the Balmoral Hotel) is in the centre, with the North Bridge to its right above Waverley station.

Edinburgh (pronounced /ˈɛdɪnˌbrə/), Dùn Èideann (/tuːn ˈeːtʃən/) in Scottish Gaelic, is the second-largest city in Scotland and its capital city.

It is situated on the east coast of Scotland's central lowlands on the south shore of the Firth of Forth and in the unitary local authority of City of Edinburgh. It has been the capital of Scotland since 1437 and is the seat of the country's devolved government. The city was one of the major centres of the enlightenment, led by the University of Edinburgh. The Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. In the census of 2001, Edinburgh had a total resident population of 448,624.

Edinburgh is well known for the annual Edinburgh Festival, the largest performing arts festival in the world, and for the Hogmanay street party. At the time of the art festivals the population of the city doubles. The city is one of the world's major tourist destinations, attracting roughly 13 million visitors a year.

Origins of "Edinburgh"

The origin of the city's name is understood to come from the Brythonic Din Eidyn (Fort of Eidyn) from the time when it was a Gododdin hillfort, perhaps, as David Nash Ford suggests, when it was the home of the mid-6th century King Clinog Eitin, whose epithet records the place name.

After it was besieged by the Bernician Angles the name changed to Edin-burh, which some have argued derives from the Anglo-Saxon for "Edwin's fort", possibly derived from the 7th century Northumbrian king Edwin. However, since the name apparently predates King Edwin, this is highly unlikely. The burgh element means "fortress" or "group of buildings", i.e. a town or city and is akin to the German burg, Latin parcus, Greek pyrgos etc. This word can be traced back to the Chaldean perach meaning "growth", in the sense that a group of buildings is a growth from the earth, and may be a borrowing.

The first evidence of the existence of the town as a separate entity from the fort lies in an early 12th century charter, generally thought to date from 1124, by King David I granting land to the Church of the Holy Rood of Edinburgh. This suggests that the town came into official existence between 1018 (when King Malcolm II secured the Lothians from the Northumbrians) and 1124.

The charter refers to the recipients (in Latin) as "Ecclisie Sancte Crucis Edwinesburgensi". This could mean that those who drafted the charter believed Edwin to be the original source of the name and decided to derive the Latinisation from what they believed to be the ancient name. It could also mean that at some point in the preceding 600 years the name had altered to include a w. If the latter scenario was the case then it was soon to change; by the 1170s King William the Lion was using the name "Edenesburch" in a charter (again in Latin) confirming the 1124 grant of David I.

Documents from the 14th century show the name to have settled into its current form; although other spellings ("Edynburgh" and "Edynburghe") appear, these are simply spelling variants of the current name.

Other names

The city is affectionately nicknamed "Auld Reekie", Lowland Scots for "Old Smoky".

Some have called Edinburgh the "Athens of the North" for a variety of reasons. The earliest comparison between the two cities showed that they had a similar topography, with the Old Town of Edinburgh performing a similar role to the Acropolis. Both of them had flatter, fertile agricultural land sloping down to a port several miles away. Although this arrangement is common in Southern Europe, it is rare in Northern Europe. The 18th century intellectual life, sometimes referred to as the Scottish Enlightenment, was a key influence in gaining the name. Such beacons as David Hume and Adam Smith shone during this period. Having lost its political importance, some hoped that Edinburgh could gain a similar civilising influence on London as Athens had on Rome. Also a contributing factor was the later neoclassical architecture, particularly that of William Henry Playfair, and the National Monument (see below). One writer has said, facetiously, that the "Reykjavik of the South" would be more appropriate!

Edinburgh has also been known as "Dunedin", deriving from the Scottish Gaelic, Dùn Èideann. Dunedin, New Zealand, was originally called "New Edinburgh" and is still nicknamed the "Edinburgh of the South".

The Scots poets Robert Burns and Robert Fergusson sometimes referred to the city as "Edina" in their work. Ben Johnson described it as "Britaine's other eye", and Sir Walter Scott referred to the City as "yon Empress of the North".

Some Scots refer to the city affectionately and informally as "Embra".

The Centre

The historic centre of Edinburgh is divided into two by the broad green swath of Princes Street Gardens. To the south the view is dominated by Edinburgh Castle, perched atop an extinct volcanic crag, and the long sweep of the Old Town trailing after it along the ridge. To the north lies Princes Street and the New Town. The gardens were begun in 1816 on marsh land which had once been a loch, the Nor' Loch.

Some 70 million years ago several volcanic vents in the area cooled and solidified to form tough basalt volcanic plugs, then later a glacier swept from west to east, exposing rocky crags to the west and leaving a tail of material swept to the east. At the castle rock this tail formed a narrow steep sided ridge, declining in height over a mile till it meets general ground level at Holyrood. At the same time, the glacier gouged out ground to each side, leaving the ravine of the Grassmarket and Cowgate to the south, and the swampy valley of the Nor' Loch to the north.

This formed a natural fortress, and recent excavations at the castle (described in Excavations within Edinburgh Castle by Stephen T. Driscoll & Peter Yeoman, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph Series no.12 1997) found material dating back to the Late Bronze Age, as long ago as 850 BC.

In the 1st century the Romans recorded the Votadini as a British tribe in the area, and about 600 the poem Y Gododdin using the Brythonic form of that name describes warriors feasting "in Eidin's great hall".

The map co-ordinates of the centre of Edinburgh are approximately Template:Coor dm.

Old Town

Street scene in the Old Town
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The Old Town view across Princes Street Gardens

The Old Town has preserved its medieval plan and many Reformation-era buildings. One end is closed by the castle and the main artery The High Street (or the Royal Mile) leads away from it; minor streets (called closes or wynds) bud off the main spine in a herringbone pattern. Large squares mark the location of markets or surround major public buildings such as St Giles Cathedral. This layout, typical of the old quarters of many northern European cities, is made especially picturesque in Edinburgh, where the castle perches on top of a rocky crag, the remnants of a dormant volcano, and the main street runs down the crest of a ridge from it. The topography for the city is known as "crag and tail" and was created during the ice age when receeding glaciers scored across the land pushing soft soil aside but being split by harder crags of volcaninc rock.

The hilltop crag was the earliest part of the city to develop, becoming fortified and eventually developing into the current Edinburgh Castle. The rest of the city grew slowly down the tail of land from the Castle Rock. This was an easily defended spot with marshland on the south and a loch, the Nor Loch, on the north. Access up the main road to the settlement therefore was restricted by means of various gates and a City Wall (now mostly gone).

Due to the space restrictions imposed by the narrowness of the "tail" the Old Town became home to some of the earliest "high rise" residential buildings. Multi-story dwellings were the norm from the 1500s onwards. During the 1700s the Old Town had a population of about 80,000 residents. However, in more modern times it had declined dramatically to just 4,000 residents. There are currently approximately 20,000 residents in the various parts of the Old Town. As the population was for a long time reluctant to build outside the defensive wall, the need for housing grew and hence the buildings became higher and higher. However, many of these buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1824. They were then rebuilt on the original foundations. This led to changes in the ground level and the creation of many passages and vaults under the Old Town.

On December 7, 2002, another major fire in the Old Town engulfed part of the Cowgate. It destroyed the famous comedy club, The Gilded Balloon, and much of the Informatics department of the University of Edinburgh, including the comprehensive AI library.

New Town

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A panorama of Edinburgh published by the Illustrated London News in 1868. The grid pattern of New Town appears in the foreground. Edinburgh Castle is on the hill centre right, and the Royal Mile can be traced leading down from it to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The hill at the top left is Arthur's Seat.

The New Town was an 18th century solution to the problem of an increasingly crowded Old Town. The city had remained incredibly compact, confined to the ridge running down from the castle. In 1766 a competition to design the New Town was won by James Craig, a 22-year old architect. The plan that was built created a rigid, ordered grid, which fitted well with enlightenment ideas of rationality. The principal street was to be George Street, which follows the natural ridge to the north of the Old Town. Either side of it are the other main streets of Princes Street and Queen Street. Princes Street has since become the main shopping street in Edinburgh, and few Georgian buildings survive on it. Linking these streets were a series of perpendicular streets. At the east and west ends are St. Andrew's Square and Charlotte Square respectively. The latter was designed by Robert Adam and is often considered one of the finest Georgian squares in Britain. Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland, is on the north side of Charlotte Square.

Sitting in the valley between the Old and New Towns was the Nor' Loch, which had been both the city's water supply and place for dumping sewerage. By the 1820s it was drained. Some plans show that a canal was intended, but Princes Street Gardens are what was created. Excess soil from the construction of the buildings was dumped into the valley, creating what is now The Mound. In the mid-19th century the National Gallery of Scotland and Royal Scottish Academy Building were built on The Mound, and tunnels to Waverley Station driven through it.

The New Town was so successful that it was extended greatly. The grid pattern was not maintained, but rather a more picturesque layout was created.


Leith is the port of Edinburgh. It still retains a separate identity from Edinburgh, and it was a matter of great resentment when in 1920 Leith was merged into Edinburgh. Even today the parliamentary seat is known as 'Edinburgh North and Leith'. With the redevelopment of Leith, Edinburgh has gained the business of a number of cruise liner companies who now provide cruises to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Leith also boasts the Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed behind the new Ocean Terminal.

See also: Granton, Newhaven


View of Edinburgh from the Scott Monument on Princes Street, looking toward Arthur's Seat

The varied topography of the city includes several summits which command sweeping views over Edinburgh.

To the southeast of central Edinburgh stands the eminence known as Arthur's Seat, overlooking Holyrood House and the Old Town beside it. The crag is a collection of side vents of the main volcano on which Edinburgh is built. The volcano slipped and tipped sideways, leaving these vents as the highest points for miles around. Arthur's Seat is now part of Holyrood Park, originally owned by the monarch and part of the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It contains Britain's largest concentration of geological SSSIs, as well as providing the people of Edinburgh with spectacular views of and from Arthur's Seat and somewhere to relax after a long day in the city.

To the northeast, overlooking the New Town, is Calton Hill. It is topped by an assortment of buildings and monuments: two observatories, Nelson's Monument (a tower dedicated to Admiral Horatio Nelson), the old Royal High School (once almost the home of a devolved Parliament), and the unfinished National Monument, which is modelled on the Parthenon from the Athenian Acropolis and is nicknamed "Edinburgh's Disgrace".


Edinburgh has two professional football clubs: Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian. Both play in the Scottish Premier League, Hibernian at Easter Road Stadium near Leith and Hearts at Tynecastle Stadium in the Gorgie area. There are many reputable non league sides such as Spartans and Edinburgh City. Although Edinburgh is Scotland's capital, the Scottish national team play usually, but not always, at Hampden Park, Glasgow.

Scotland's national rugby team's base is Murrayfield Stadium. Rugby union internationals and "home internationals" (i.e. Scotland, England, Ireland & Wales) are played at Murrayfield, owned by the Scottish Rugby Union. (Murrayfield is also used as a venue for other events, including music concerts.) Edinburgh's professional rugby team, the Edinburgh Gunners, play in the Celtic League at Murrayfield.

Edinburgh has also hosted various national and international sports events including the World Student Games, the 1970 British Commonwealth Games and the 1986 Commonwealth Games. For the Games in 1970 the city built major Olympic standard venues and facilities including the Royal Commonwealth pool and the Meadowbank Stadium.


As of 2004 the General Register Office of Scotland estimated that the City of Edinburgh had a resident population of 453,670, an increase from 448,624 as reported by the 2001 UK census. The General Register Office also reported that this resident population was split between 218,008 males and 235,662 females. Whilst Edinburgh's population is ageing a very large and transient population of young students studying at the universities in the city offset this demographic problem somewhat. The population of Edinburgh is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 to 14 years.


Edinburgh has consistently been one of the most prosperous parts of Scotland. Arguably, it has been in rude health since the arrival in 1999 of the Scottish Parliament, which had a so-called "headquarters effect", with many government departments being set up in the city, resulting in an increase in recruitment and employment. Some ancillary economic undertakings have since reportedly set up. Unemployment rates are amongst the lowest in the country and job creation rates some of the highest. Edinburgh's population is also growing rapidly, mainly through inward migration from overseas and, particularly, the rest of the United Kingdom. This strong growth is, however, leading to pressure on the green belt, particularly in the west of the city as office and housing developments compete for space.

The economy of Edinburgh is largely based around the service sector, with tourism and financial services banking being particularly important; education and high tech research. The Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695, by an act of the original Scottish Parliament, and is now part of the HBOS group, who have kept their headquarters in Edinburgh. The Royal Bank of Scotland was founded in 1747 by Royal Charter and is now the fifth largest bank in the world by market capitalisation. In 2005 they began the move into their new purpose built headquarters at Gogarburn, near the Edinburgh City Bypass. Edinburgh is the second largest financial centre in the United Kingdom after the City of London and the fifth largest in Europe.

The New Town and city centre has traditionally been home to many companies, but modern needs have caused many to relocate. Immediately to the west of the city centre is the Terry Farrell master-planned Exchange business district, which now houses major employers such as Scottish Widows, Standard Life, the Clydesdale Bank and Baillie Gifford. Edinburgh Park is a business park located in the west of city, near Edinburgh Airport, and it now has its own railway station. Following the opening of the Royal Bank's new headquarters, there will be around 20,000 people working in the western outskirts of the city.

Important nowadays are shopping centres and retail parks, including a few located in the suburbs and on the edge of the city. The St James Centre and Princes Mall started in the East End in the 1970s, then Cameron Toll in south Edinburgh in the 1980s. More recent developments are the Gyle centre next to Edinburgh Park, Ocean Terminal in Leith and the retail parks at Hermiston Gait, Straiton and Fort Kinnaird which are all next to the Edinburgh City Bypass. Edinburgh has many modern supermarkets in its suburbs which offer a more day to day type of shopping. Good examples of prominent ones are Sainsbury's in the Cameron Toll centre, ASDA in the eastern suburbs close to the City Bypass, Tesco Extra at Corstorphine and Morrison's at Crewe Toll.

Brewing is a traditional industry, and while the closure of the Fountainbridge brewery in 2005 leaves Caledonian Brewery as the largest brewery in the city, Scottish & Newcastle still retain their headquarters in the city.

Tourism is another important mainstay of the economy of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the country's most popular tourist destination in terms of visitor numbers, and the second most popular in the UK after London, with numbers growing substantially each year, particularly in the budget travel and backpacking sector, assisted by the growth of Edinburgh Airport and direct raillinks to the rest of the country. The presence of the Edinburgh Festival attracts large numbers of people alongside the Hogmanay street party each New Year. The Edinburgh Festivals in August alone generate in excess of £100 million for the Edinburgh economy.

Another major element of Edinburgh's tourist industry is conference and business tourism which is another major contributor to the economy.

On March 12, 2004, Edinburgh was granted Fairtrade City status.


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The Scottish Parliament

As capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Parliament, as well as frequently hosting a number of international events, such as Commonwealth Heads' of Government Meeting and the Council of Europe.

On a national level, the city of Edinburgh is represented at both Holyrood and Westminister.

At the Scottish Parliament, it returns six MSPs from the constituencies of Edinburgh North and Leith, Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh, Edinburgh Pentlands, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West. It dominates the Lothians parliamentary area, which returns a further seven MSPs.

In the House of Commons, it is represented by the five constituencies of Edinburgh South, Edinburgh West, Edinburgh South West, Edinburgh North and Leith, and Edinburgh East. The seat of Edinburgh Central ceased to exist with redistricting prior to the UK general election, 2005. The seat of Edinburgh Pentlands largely became Edinburgh South West. Edinburgh Central was divided up between the remaining seats, although none of it went to Edinburgh South.


See Edinburgh Dialect.

See also

Art galleries

Arts Venues


Museums and libraries

Other features of interest

Universities and colleges


Famous residents

Twinned cities worldwide

Edinburgh is twinned with several cities across Europe and throughout the rest of the world. These include:

External links

Other places with the same name

The name Edinburgh has also been given to places elsewhere in the world, mainly by Scottish settlers:

The Scots Gaelic name Dùn Èideann has also been given to other cities, including:

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