Calton Hill

7.3.16 Edinburgh Royal Mile-012sm

From many places around Edinburgh, you can see monuments on Calton Hill. Here is what you see from the Old Town. It’s a very romantic view.





There is a tower, a dome or two, and even some Grecian columns, a failed effort to duplicate the Parthenon in Edinburgh.

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During the Scottish Enlightement (18th century), the city called itself the Athens of the North, and the structure is officially the National Monument of Scotland (also, Edinburgh’s Disgrace, as it was never completed).


A stroll up Calton Hill seemed like pleasant walking, little did we know that it is full of monuments.

7.29.16 Calton Hill-003smAt the top, we could see not only the Parthenon, but all kinds of other buildings. It reminded me of being at a World’s Fair. Lots of other people, including a tour group from Spain, were enjoying the day with us. Jonathan practiced his hobby of offering to take group photos for people. He had lots of takers. In addition to the Parthenon, there is the Edinburgh Astronomy Society observatory and at least one other dome.

An art collective is renovating the old city observatory property as an art center. It’s very promising that their first act on the way to raising funds and planning what to do was to put up scaffolding so that visitors can see over the wall into the observatory grounds. Apparently, that has never been possible before.

7.29.16 Calton Hill-018 There’s nothing inside except the overgrown lawn and the same building you can see from outside, but it is fun to see “inside”.

7.29.16 Calton Hill-023In addition to the monuments, on Calton Hill is the only surviving private home built by James Craig, original architect of New Town Edinburgh. This home, Observatory House, was briefly the city observatory, then provided housing to astronomers using the nearby observatory designed by Wm. Henry Playfair, another esteemed Scottish architect. Today Observatory House is being renovated for rental as a luxury vacation spot—the only lodging on Calton Hill.

Looking outward from Calton is a panorama of Edinburgh. On the left is Holyrood Palace and behind it is Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. On the right, you can see the Salisbury Crags with the new Scottish Parliament (the hedgehog building is part of it).

Turn to the right and you see the Dugald Stewart monument with Old Town Edinburgh beyond, marked by the crown steeple of St. Giles Cathedral and many other steeples.

7.29.16 Calton Hill-020 7.29.16 Calton Hill-002Turning again offers New Town, where you can see neat rows of stone houses. Beyond New Town is Leith, the docks and waterfront of the Firth of Forth, with Inchkeith island  in the distance.


With that you’ve completed a 360º tour of Edinburgh, all from Calton Hill.


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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