Friday, 28 March 2014

On Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Edinburgh must rank as one of the world's most beautiful cities. The mix of diverse architectural splendour, natural setting and rich history make visiting it an absorbing experience. There's so much to see that delights the eye. Situated like Rome atop seven hills, Edinburgh is a walker's city, requiring effort to get around it all. This is my fifth visit in four years, I can't get enough of the place.

Yesterday, with some free time in the morning, I set off up Calton Hill to see the view from the top and the monuments that decorate the summit. Below: view of the top from western side. To the left, the back of the City Observatory, to the right, the Dugald Stewart Monument.

Below: built to commemorate Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart, this neo-classical monument of nine Corinthian columns was completed in 1831. In the distance, behind it, Edinburgh Castle, to the left the clock tower of the Balmoral Hotel and the Walter Scott Monument.

Left: this is the Nelson Monument, erected in memory of Britain's most famous sailor. The monument, visible from the Firth of Forth, two and half miles (4km) to the north, is topped with a time ball. Shortly before 1pm, it is raised aloft (left), then at the stroke of one, it falls (right), allowing sailors to set their chronometers. Simultaneously, a 25-pounder gun is fired at Edinburgh Castle, allowing clocks to be re-set even in case of fog.

A similar time-ball is to be found on the Royal Observatory in London's Greenwich.

Below: looking down Princes Street. In the distance to the right, Corstophine Hill. Next month, Edinburgh will at last see the new tramway coming into operation; it will run along Princes Street and link the city centre with the airport, beyond Corstophine. Work started in 2009. Today I read that the new line may be extended to Leith  and the Ocean Terminal on the Firth of Forth, paid for by EU funds.

Below: the National Monument, which was meant as a pantheon to fallen Scottish soldiers, commenced after the Napoleonic Wars but left unfinished. At first a national scandal, today a beloved part of the city's skyline.

Below: Arthur's Seat, another of Edinburgh's hills, the most spectacular one. Forming part of Holyrood Park, this extinct volcano is located one mile from the Castle Hill.  Its very wilderness suggests that it is part of a great expanse of rugged mountainous terrain, but actually it is surrounded by Edinburgh and its suburbia on all sides.

Edinburgh is a Most splendid city, one to visit again and again bringing delight each time. Little surprise then, that it tops UK rankings for cities that people want to live in. English accents are to be heard in the street, and judging by the speakers' attire, they are working here rather than visiting. Click on the Edinburgh label below for more photos of the city.

This time last year:
Doomsday - the Last Judgment

This time two years ago:
Sunny Scotland at +23.9C 

This time three years ago:
The iconic taste of Marmite

This time four years ago:

This time five year ago:

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