Edinburgh

Apr 15, 2008

Here I go with some things that you can find in any travel book, but it's the teacher in me, and I can't help it.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, lies on the east coast of Scotland. With a population of about half a million, it is the second most visited tourist attraction in Great Britain (after London). It's famous for the arts, especially in the summer when it hosts the renowned three-week Edinburgh International Festival, which was first started in 1947. It'd be great to come to Edinburgh at this time of year, since there are performances all around the town, not only in its theatres, but also on its streets. The Fringe is an alternative festival, started in the same year, when eight theatrical groups gate crashed the Edinburgh International Festival. What they wanted was to express their belief in freedom of expression in innovative and experimental performances. Today there are more than 40 Fringes around the world.

Princes Street, the main thoroughfare and a very nice shopping street, clearly divides the city into the Old and the New Town. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is absolutely amazing. The city's medieval history can be seen on the Royal Mile, a mile-long street that links the Castle with the Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland.

Standing upon a volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city's skyline. The original fortress, Din Eidyn, was built in the sixth century by King Edwin - hence the city's name. In 1996, the Stone of Destiny, or the Stone of Scone, was brought back to Scotland after 700 hundreds years. In 1296 it was seized by the English and brought to Westminster, where it was fitted into a chair on which most of the British monarchs were crowned. Today it is on display in the Castle, together with jewelery and other royal paraphernalia, such as crown, scepter and sword, which are also called regalia.

The New Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. It was built after 1767 and it contains the finest examples of Georgian architecture and city planning.

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