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viewed from Princes Street

Edinburgh (pronounced ED-in-burra (SAMPA: ["Ed@n%b@r@])), Dun Eideann in Scottish Gaelic, is a major and historic city on the east coast of Scotland on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, and in the unitary council region of City of Edinburgh. It has been the capital of Scotland since 1492 and is the site of the Scottish Parliament, which was re-established in 1999. In the census of 2001 Edinburgh had a total resident population of 448,624.

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 placename. After it was besieged by the Bernician Angles the name changed to Edin-burh (Edwin's fort), possibly derived from the 7th century Northumbrian king Edwin.

Edinburgh is well known for the Edinburgh Festival, a collection of several arts festivals, and for the Hogmanay celebrations which are becoming one of the largest in the world. The city is affectionately nicknamed "Auld Reekie" (Old Smokey). Some have called it "the Athens of the north" in reference to its architecture and 19th-century intellectual life (as well, perhaps, as the National Monument; see below).

Table of contents
1 The Centre
2 Viewpoints
3 The Harbour
4 Football
5 Dialect
6 See also
7 Famous residents
8 Twinned cities worldwide
9 External link

The Centre

The historic centre of Edinburgh is divided into two by the broad green swath of the Prince's Street Gardens. To the south the view is dominated by Edinburgh Castle, perched atop an extinct volcanic crag, and the long sweep of Old Town trailing after it along the ridge. To the north lies Prince's 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 Scotland Monograph Series 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 coordinates of the centre of Edinburgh are approximately 55°57' N, 3°11' W.

Old Town

The Old Town has preserved its medieval plan and many reformation-era buildings. One end is closed by the castle and the main street (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 small mountain and the main street runs down the crest of a ridge from it.

The old city is also home to some of the earliest "high rise" residential buildings. During the 1700s the Old Town had a population of about 80,000 residents, however in modern times it has reduced dramatically to just 4,000 residents. The population was for a long time reluctant to build outside the defensive wall, so as the need for housing grew 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 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

The New Town north of the gardens and Prince's Street, was begun in the latter 18th century; it has grown greatly since then, but to this day it remains a very fine example of Georgian town-planning and architecture.



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 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, a tower dedicated to Admiral Nelson, the old Royal High School (once almost the home of a devolved Parliament), and an unfinished national monument modeled on the Parthenon from the Athenian Acropolis, which is nicknamed Edinburgh's Disgrace.

The Harbour

With the redevelopment of Leith – Edinburgh's sea port, once a town in its own right – Edinburgh has gained the business of a number of cruise liner companies who now provide cruises to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands from Leith. Leith also boasts the Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed behind the new Leith Ocean Terminal.

See also: Granton, Newhaven


Edinburgh has two football clubs; Hibernian F.C and Heart of Midlothian. Both play in the Scottish Premier division.


Edinburgh Dialect

See also

Famous residents

Twinned cities worldwide

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

External link

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

The Gaelic name Dun Eideann has also been given to other cities, including: