of the ancient celtic kingdom’
The setting of Scotland’s capital city could
not be more striking. Located in the Lothians,
Edinburgh is perched on a number of extinct volcano
cones and rocky crags and has a beauty unequalled anywhere in Britain.
The origin of the name ‘Edinburgh’
is uncertain but the city’s original name, mentioned in a
poem composed around 600 AD. What is certain is that Edinburgh has
been inhabited since 1500 BC, making it one of the longest continuously
inhabited cities in northern Europe. The city grew in importance
and, by the end of the 15th century, was established as Scotland’s
capital. Scotland’s connection with England became closer
after 1603, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England,
effectively uniting the two crowns. In 1707, the Act of Union (uniting
the Scottish and English parliaments) Scotland retained its own
Church and separate legal and educational systems. With the re-introduction
of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, Edinburgh has become a centre
of political power again.
The city has successfully established itself as a leading international
centre for finance, business and education. Industry in Edinburgh
continues to boom. After London, it is the most important financial
centre in Britain.
The city has four universities. The oldest is the University
of Edinburgh and was established in 1583. The city is a
World Heritage Site, thanks to its medieval Old
Town, 12th-century castle and 18th-century Georgian New Town. A
large proportion of the city is composed of green areas and parkland.
The only dull note is its chilly and damp climate, best summed up
by the Scottish word ‘dreich’ that translates as ‘damp,
grey and drizzly’.
For this reason, most tourists visit Edinburgh in summer (between
July and September) and particularly in August, for the world-famous
Edinburgh International Festival. There is also
a lively Fringe Festival, Military Tattoo
and the Book, Film and
Jazz Festivals running concurrently. It is also very crowded
at this time, with accommodation booked up months in advance. Another
influx of visitors occurs over the New Years, when the popular Hogmanay
Festival takes place. The quietest time to visit is either
in the spring or late autumn, when the attractions are less overrun
with tourists and some hotels offer discounts.