Edinburgh is a city that cries out to be explored, full of odd, inviting nooks that encourage you to go just a little bit further.
One of the most stunning cities in all of Europe is Edinburgh, which is spread across a number of rocky hills with a view of the ocean. It is a town that is closely linked to its surroundings, with structures and monuments perched on crags and hidden by rocks. The city offers a constantly shifting viewpoint, from the Old Town’s picturesque jumble of mediaeval tenements piled high along the Royal Mile, to the New Town’s neat grid of neoclassical respectability, with its turreted skyline strung between the black, bull-nosed Castle Rock and the russet palisade of Salisbury Crags.
The Scottish Enlightenment’s great thinkers gave Edinburgh the moniker “The Athens of the North” in the 18th century. It is a city of high culture and lofty ideals, of literature and art, philosophy and science. The world’s largest arts festival is held here every summer, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of the previous year’s raving reviews and box office records to generate yet another string of accolades. The Scottish parliament reconvenes here, beneath the Greek temples on Calton Hill, which serves as Edinburgh’s acropolis, after a 300-year absence.
Edinburgh is also known as Auld Reekie, a rustic location that snubs the literati’s pretences with an impudent finger. The city of Auld Reekie is full of boisterous, busy bars and opulent restaurants, all-night parties and late-night drinking, beer-fueled poets, and foul-mouthed comedians. It is the place that lured Robert Louis Stevenson away from his law lectures so he could investigate the saloons and the street life of the 19th-century Old Town. And it’s Beltane, the revived paganic May Day celebration, where half-naked revellers dance in the flickering firelight of bonfires beneath the stony indifference of Calton Hill’s pillared monuments.
Like a favourite book, Edinburgh is a city you’ll want to return to, savouring a different experience each time – the castle silhouetted against a blue spring sky, with a yellow haze of daffodils misting the slopes below the esplanade; stumbling out of a late-night club into a summer dawn, with only the yawp of seagulls to break the unexpected silence; heading for a cafe on a cool winter morning standing transfixed among the crowds in Princess Street Gardens. Edinburgh is a different experience throughout the seasons.