Edinburgh Old Town

The Old Town sector of Edinburgh is known for its Reformation era buildings and its unique medieval layout.  Due to the many classical buildings that have been preserved throughout the main area of the Old Town, the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, along with the New Town area of Edinburgh.

The main road of Edinburgh Old Town is the Royal Mile with one end closed off by the castle and the other end of the mile stretching down to the ruins of Holyrood Abbey.  There are many narrow alleyways that spiral out in a spine along the road downhill from the centre of the town that lead out into small shops and easy shortcuts for residents.

Throughout the Old Town neighbourhood there are many large squares which signify where public buildings and the markets are located.  For instance, there are squares near the St. Giles Cathedral, Tron Kirk, and around the Supreme Courts.

Within the Edinburgh Old Town there are also many other landmark locations which include the Palace of Holyrood house which is where the Queen lives when in Edinburgh, the Royal Museum of Scotland, the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, and Surgeons’ Hall.

For the most part the Edinburgh Old Town is the entire city centre area that is found to the South of Princes Street and includes the main skyline of the city which can be seen wonderfully from the Princes Street Gardens.

The landscape around the area is also a landmark in itself with the remnants of the extinct volcano, a castle on a crag, and the main street which travels along the crest of the volcano.  For this reason the building of the Old Town is known as the ‘crag and tall’.

At one point the Old Town became overpopulated which spawned the creation of the New Town.  The city tried to accommodate the growth by developing its residential buildings into high rises; however, many of these buildings were ruined in the Great Fire of 1824 and when the buildings were rebuilt many vaults and passages were created underneath the Old Town section.

The Old Town is also littered with many pubs and shops alongside many historical closes one of the most famous of which is the Mary King’s Close.