Edinburgh receives 13 million visitors making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and in 1995 it was awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every August the city hosts the Edinburgh Festival which is the biggest arts festival in the world and reportedly doubles the population of the city. The New Year is another busy time for the city as visitors flock to the Hogmanay Festival and this means that the spring and autumn can be good times of the year to plan a visit.
Started at the end of the 1940s, The Edinburgh Festival takes place over three weeks around the end of August each year. It is in fact a number of simultaneous festivals that cover all aspects of the performing arts.
The International Festival has world class performers from many disciplines including opera, theatre, classical music and dance. The Fringe Festival runs in parallel and showcases the top talents in comedy, theatre and performance. Also, on show over the period are the Jazz, Book and Film Festivals as well as the Military Tattoo which takes place in Edinburgh Castle. Website: edinburghfestivals.co.uk.
The most famous emblem of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle sits on top of an extinct volcano and is the oldest surviving structure in the city. It is the most visited of the cities tourist attractions and has seen service as a royal residence and military fortress. Over it's history it has survived sieges by Oliver Cromwell and the Protestant army of William and Mary.
Edinburgh Castle was also the birthplace of James VI of Scotland in 1566 who went on to become James I of England in 1603. Today its roles include housing the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, the headquarters of the Scottish division of the British Army and the stage for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August. Website: historic-scotland.gov.uk.
The modern day Scottish Parliament was re-established in 1999 having been abolished in 1707 following the Act of Union which created Great Britain. A brand new building was constructed to house the Parliament and this is located at the end of the Royal Mile by Holyrood Park.
The famous building was designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles and resembles the approximate shape of an upturned boat. It uses steel, oak and granite materials and is renowned as one of the most innovative buildings in Britain. Website: scottish.parliament.uk.
History of Edinburgh
The centre of the city is built upon a series of rocky crags formed from extinct volcanoes. The area has been inhabited since 1500BC and over time has grown in stature, becoming the capital in 1437. Following the Act of Union between England and Wales in 1707 the city's influence was reduced as power shifted to London. However the reintroduction, in 1999, of the Scottish parliament has re-established it as a political base.
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