From historical treasures to modern masterpieces, Edinburgh is home to some of the world’s most beautiful architecture
People come from all over the world to see Edinburgh, and with good reason. As one of the UK’s most beautiful cities, so much of Edinburgh’s architecture has remained untouched for centuries and new additions only stand to make the city more pleasing to behold. So what are some of Edinburgh’s most breath-taking structures?
Built as it stands in the late 1600s, the Palace of Holyroodhouse (commonly known as Holyrood Palace) is the official Scottish residence of the royal family and has been since the 16th century. Queen Elizabeth II spends a week here at the beginning of each summer, performing official engagements.
The building itself is stunning, and the famous apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots are open to public viewing throughout most of the year. There are also incredible gardens to explore, stretching out into Holyrood Park.
The Scottish National Gallery stands as a testament to architects like William Playfair, who aimed to turn the city into the ‘Athens of the North’. As such, the gallery has a stunning classical style, encased by towering columns. And there is plenty to admire inside the gallery, too, from Rembrandt to Van Gogh.
Edinburgh Waverley is the perfect blend of old and new, with areas dating back to the 1800s and other sections being constantly expanded, developed and changed. Travellers are welcomed to Scotland’s capital with stunning arches, and can walk out straight onto Princes Street beneath a glass ceiling which offers a perfect view of the Edinburgh sky.
As well as being the primary link between Edinburgh and the rest of the UK, the station is also one of several links between the Old Town and the New Town — bringing people together in many different ways.
The Scottish Parliament Building may be a lot more modern than other entries on this list, but it’s all the more striking for it. Designed by Enric Miralles in a post-modern, metallic style, the building was officially opened just over a decade ago in 2004.
Its design aims to mirrors the natural beauty of the landscape around it, and the building itself is comprised of an array of abstract shapes. This certainly makes it stand out from the rest of the Old Town.
No list of Edinburgh’s greatest structures would be complete without its most iconic architectural feat — Edinburgh Castle. Situated at the very top of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town, parts of the castle date all the way back to the 12th century.
Outside the castle, visitors can stand atop the mighty Castle Rock and gaze to both the North and the South. Once inside the castle grounds themselves, you can get up close and personal with this famous fortress, appreciating the soaring towers and the grand Half Moon Battery.
It’s impossible to get a true feel for Edinburgh’s rich history and architectural credentials without taking the time to stroll along the city’s most famous street. The Royal Mile is — true to its name — one Scots mile long, and stretches all the way from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Palace, with many stunning, fascinating and quirky buildings in between.
From famous pubs like the Deacon Brodie to quaint shops and curious historical sites like John Knox’s house, the Royal Mile is not to be missed. St Giles Cathedral is one of the most particularly beautiful buildings you’ll find along the Mile, dating all the way back to the 14th century.