Edinburgh Old Town, view from Princes street

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Edinburgh Old Town, view from Princes street ( 480x640 )
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The Old Town in Edinburgh is the very central part of the city as well as the oldest one. There had been a fort on the Castle Rock since the Iron Age. By the 16th century James IV created the beginnings of a royal palace at Holyrood and these two places were connected together. The main thoroughfare was called the Royal Mile (it was approximately mile long and royalty often took this road from the Castle to the Holyrood and vice versa) and it was actually made up of four distinct streets named Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street and the Canongate. The pattern of the Old Town was really unique. It had its high "lands" (many storeyed tenements), narrow wynds and closes (alleyways). From the bird perspective it looked like the main spine in a herringbone pattern.

In past all classes lived and worked here together. The Old Town was the seat of the Scottish Parliament until the Union with the English of 1707; the home of the law courts, of learning and of commerce. The permanent home of the Scottish Parliament has been its own building next to Holyrood since 1999.

In the second half of the 18th century the New Town started to be developed and a lot of people flitted there. The population decreased rapidly. Today life is being breathed back into the Old Town. People are returning to live and work here. Nowadays it is a lively area with many specialty shops, restaurants and businesses. One can find here a wide variety of Scottish crafts, gifts and clothing. Almost 8000 people now live in the Old Town.

To the most notable buildings in the Old Town belong the Castle, the Scottish Parliament Building, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, the Royal Museum of Scotland, Surgeons' Hall or the University of Edinburgh.

The Old Town has been declared a conservation area and the Old Town Renewal Trust has been formed to care for it. Old buildings are being restored. Moreover, in 1995 together with the New Town it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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