Calton Hill

pictures, photos, facts and information on Calton Hill (Edinburgh)


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Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh’s main hills. It stands east of the New Town. The summit of the hill is a quiet place with grassy slopes and panoramic views of the city. It is easily accessed. There is a Scottish Parliament building and Holyrodd Park just at the foothill of Calton Hill. The philosopher David Hume is buried on the eastern slope of the hill.

The hill includes several iconic monuments and buildings. The National Monument is an acropolis-like structure. Its construction started in 1816, a year after Napoleon was defeated. It was supposed to be a replica of Parthenon in Athens, a memorial to the victims of Napoleonic Wars. However, soon afterwards the funds ran dry and it has never been finished. Nowadays it is a popular landmark.

Another structure is the Nelson's Monument, commemorating his naval victory at Trafalgar in 1805. It was built in 1807 as a stone imitation of his telescope. Then there is the Dugald Stewart Monument built in 1831 by the architect William Henry Playfair. The New Parliament House was built as the Royal High School in 1829 in a classical Grecian style. However, it never became a parliament building. Then there was St Andrew's House built in the 1930s, complete with the neighbouring 1817 castellated Governor's House, but all that now remains is the Governor’s House.

There are, in fact, two observatories on Calton Hill: the Old Observatory, designed by New Town architect James Craig in 1792; and the City Observatory, built in 1818, which has exhibitions and viewings of the night sky.

Calton Hill is the venue for a number of events throughout the year. The largest of these is the Beltane Fire Festival held on April 30 each year. During the August Festival Shows and Hogmanay it offers excellent views of fireworks displays.
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