Edinburgh

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Edinburgh

Edinburgh on the Map

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Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland (since 1437) as well as one of the biggest and most important cities in the country, the seventh biggest in the United Kingdom. The population of the city is around half a million. It lies in the southeast of Scotland, near the North Sea, along the Firth of Forth. As the capital city it is also the seat of the Scottish Parliament (created in 1999). In the past it was one of the major centres of the Enlightenment, led by the University of Edinburgh that earned the city its nickname Athens of the North. Due to its architecture it is considered one of the most picaresque cities in Europe. It is the second most visited city in the United Kingdom after London, with 13 million visitors a year.

The area of Edinburgh is 100 square miles (259 square kilometers). The historical centre of the city is divided into two main parts, the Old Town and the New Town. They are separated by Princes Street Gardens. Both districts were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Together, there are over 4,500 listed buildings in the city.

The Old Town is dominated by Edinburgh Castled situated atop extinct volcanic crag. The Royal Mile leads away from there. It is considered the spine of a so called Herringbone pattern. Many minor streets called closes (or wynds) leads downhill on both sides. Due to the lack of space here, the Old Town became home to the earliest high-rise buildings with up to 14 floors. Some large squares on the Royal Mile such as St Giles Cathedral or the Law Courts were the locations of the markets. As the Old Town was getting crowded, in the 18th century the New Town started to be build. The grid pattern that won the competition was designed by James Craig. George Street (that followed the ridge of the Old Town) became the main street. Between the Old and the New Town there was a glen, Nor’ Loch, later drained and changed into Princes Street Gardens. To the immediate west of the castle lies the financial district, housing insurance and banking buildings. To the southeast of central Edinburgh stands the eminence known as Arthur's Seat, overlooking Holyroodhouse and the Old Town beside it.

Edinburgh is quite famous for its annual Edinburgh festival held four weeks from early August. The most famous of these events are the Edinburgh Fringe (the largest performing arts festival in the world), the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. There are also other festivals held during the year, such as Hogmanay street party (31 December), Burns Night (25 January) or St. Andrew's Day (November 30).

Edinburgh has been connected with many famous people through its whole history. Famous authors of the city include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, or nowadays J. K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter. From other artist it is necessary to mention Sir Sean Connery (a James Bond actor), Sir Henry Raeburn (portrait painter) or Arthur Marwick (a musician). It is a home town of ex Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair. As far as the science is concerned, the most famous people connected with Edinburgh are James Clerk Maxwell (the founder of the modern theory of electromagnetism), Alexander Graham Bell (the telephone pioneer), Charles Darwin (the biologist), David Hume (a philosopher), Adam Smith (an economist) or James Hutton ("Father of Geology").

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