Scotland is a country absolutely steeped in history. Cultural traditions here go back millennia, and in the capital city of Edinburgh, you’re never far from the past. In fact, some of Edinburgh’s top attractions are the incredible historical monuments of the city that bear witness to the long story of Scottish culture and civilization.
Along with Scotland’s natural beauty, the history of the country brings millions of tourists here every year to immerse themselves in the past. And although Edinburgh is a lively and modern city and one of the cultural capitals of Scotland, if not of the whole UK, you don’t have to look very far to find glimpses of the fascinating past.
Leave your bags behind at a luggage storage in Edinburgh and check out some of these fantastic historical sites for yourself. You’ll get a better understanding of the sometimes complex story of Scottish history and also come home with a camera full of incredible photos in this beautiful location.
There’s really no missing this one. From the moment you arrive, you’ll notice that the skyline is dominated by this impressive fortress set on a volcanic mountain that rises above the city. And Edinburgh Castle has been at the heart of the Scottish capital for centuries.
There have been fortifications on this mountain for at least 2000 years, and the current castle was founded back in the 12th century. In the century since, this castle has seen its share of warfare, including a siege by Cromwell’s troops in 1650 and the forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. In fact, Edinburgh Castle has a strong claim to being the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked fortresses in the entire world.
This rich history makes the castle one of the most visited attractions in all of Scotland and the perfect place to immerse yourself in Scottish history. In fact, exploring the halls and armories of this castle is like taking a crash course in Scottish and British history, and you’ll leave with a far greater understanding of the forces that have shaped this country up to the present day.
The Scott Monument
The second largest monument to a writer in the world, the Scott Monument, dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, author of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, is also affectionately known as the Gothic Rocket by Edinburgh locals. It’s certainly an impressive structure, standing 200 feet high in the center of Edinburgh.
This is an impressive tribute to how much Scottish people treasure their literary and cultural heritage. While the monument is dedicated to Scott, the impressive stone pillar is also decorated with statues of many other writers and poets who have made Scottish literature what it is today.
The monument has several viewing platforms that you can reach by means of an interior stone staircase to give you incredible views over the center of the city. Leave the bags behind and head up into this monument to celebrate Scotland’s cultural heritage as well as its natural beauty.
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh is full of ancient buildings, from the medieval period to the city’s Georgian and Victorian Renaissance. However, historical importance isn’t determined by age. The building that houses the Scottish Parliament incorporates 17th-century Queensferry House, but it’s the recent history of the building that makes it so important.
Following Scotland’s devolution in 1999, which gave it greater independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, this building has been the center of Scottish power ever since. The modern building is a tribute to Scottish independence and self-determination and is one of the best places in the city to visit if you want to understand the modern history of Scotland and the direction the country is going in.
In a city like Edinburgh, it’s hard to pick the most atmospheric location in the city. Still, the Edinburgh Underground would have to rank high on any list.
Mary King’s Close and the Blair Street Underground Vaults were some of the most deprived and poverty-stricken parts of the city during the 18th century. When Edinburgh underwent substantial urban regeneration in the 18th and 19th centuries, these slums were bulldozed over, with much of the modern city center built on top of them. Forgotten for generations, they were rediscovered in the 20th century and are now the perfect place to uncover the city’s history.
Guided tours and ghost walks will take you through the stunning locations. It’s an incredibly eerie experience looking at shops and houses that have remained virtually unchanged since they were covered up and is the perfect place to get a sense of the history of the city and see what life was like for ordinary people instead of kings and rulers.
Another of the most notable locations in Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat is a 250-meter-high extinct volcano just outside Edinburgh’s city center. Commanding incredible views of the city and the countryside beyond, this is a great place for a relaxing walk and some peace and quiet.
It’s also the location of an Iron Age hillfort that dates back to 600 A.D., although there are archaeological remnants from even before that. That makes this one of the oldest locations in the city and the perfect spot to ponder the mysteries of the past.
Exploring history in Edinburgh
If you’re a history buff, you’re going to love Edinburgh. The traces of the past are everywhere in the city, from ancient hillforts to 18th-century slums to the modern Parliament building. With your bags safely stored in an Edinburgh luggage storage, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in these gorgeous locations and understand Scottish history so much better.
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