Edinburgh is a city with layers of history. Stories upon stories walk these cobblestone lanes and hide like ghosts within the shadow of medieval closes. This is a city where kings rose and fell, where heroes fought for freedom and where shameful men were nailed to the Mercat Cross. This is a city of good times, of hard times, of Time itself.
Right from the beginning, these were lands born in fire; Castle Rock, at the city’s core, is volcanic in origin. It is on this strategic hilltop that the city’s tale began. Edinburgh Castle itself, with its many previous iterations, has borne the brunt of Scotland’s volatile medieval era; it played a key part in the Scottish wars for independence throughout the 13th and 14th centuries.
During the 16th century, the events of history continued to shape Edinburgh not only as a city, but as the capital of a kingdom. Fuelled on by Protestant Reformers like John Knox, the tragedy of Mary, Queen of Scots, would play out here. With the coming of the 18th century, Edinburgh found itself in the midst of the Scottish Enlightenment. Dozens of monuments found around the city today celebrate illustrious men like David Hume, Adam Smith and Dugald Stewart, tributes to Edinburgh’s maverick thinkers.
The draining of the Nor Loch paved the way for Edinburgh’s famed New Town in the mid-18th century. As the united kingdoms of Scotland and England entered the Georgian period, so too did Edinburgh’s architecture, with Charlotte Square and Calton Hill becoming emblematic of the new era.
Edinburgh today is very much a product of its long, complicated and sometimes difficult history. Every building, every statue and every bustling square holds deep ties to the past; the legacies of war, Reformation and Enlightenment are very much still felt here. And as you walk these streets, you just might feel it too.
Team Citytravelreview/Curso, by Tiger Shen, Edinburgh April 2019