Edinburgh, the capital City of Scotland is located to the south of the Firth of Forth. It is one of the finest cities in Europe; a relatively small City with buildings of real grandeur. The mediaeval High Street runs from Edinburgh Castle, atop an ancient volcanic plug, down to Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. The Palace is largely 17th Century with an earlier 16th Century tower, whilst the Castle dates from the 12th to the 16th Centuries. To the north is one of Europe’s finest classical urban areas, the New Town.
Edinburgh is blessed with many fine open parks and gardens. The most important are Princes Street gardens and the Royal Botanic Garden. www.rbge.org.uk
The Edinburgh Festival, perhaps the best known arts festival in the world, was established in 1947 and runs for 3 weeks in August. Now the Edinburgh Tattoo and numerous other festivals span the whole of the summer from early July till mid-September. The annual Christmas festival and Hogmanay dominate late December. www.edinburghfestivalcity.com
There are four universities with a large number of overseas students.
In the early 17th Century, Leith was an independent burgh surrounded by fortification walls. Built around the Water of Leith it served as a trading port for the capital, Edinburgh. The river, running into the Firth of Forth, was tidal and navigable by large ships and was the most important harbour in Scotland. Leith was not only Edinburgh’s only harbour but it was the gateway to Scotland and Scotland’s busiest port. Indeed, well into the twentieth century Leith was a major trading port exporting coal, grain, wool, fish, hides, and various other goods and returning with spices, cloth, whale oil, tea and coffee, tobacco, brandy, genever and wine. Important trades were located in Leith. These included saw mills, flour and meal mills, sugar refineries, engineering works, breweries, distilleries and bottling plants. Ship building, cement making, colour making, leather manufacture, rope, twine and sail making. Coopering, tanning, brass cloth weaving and chemical works. Glass making, soap making, lime juice making, ginger beer making, vinegar making and biscuit making. All these industries were dependent on the river and the old harbour.
Several of the Scottish monarchs landed at the old harbour. In the 15th Century King James l built Kings Wark as a royal residence, arsenal, warehouses and dwellings for officials only 100 metres from Lamb’s House. Mary of Guise, the Queen Regent, ruled Scotland from her palace in Leith a few metres up the river. Mary Queen of Scots arrived here in 1561 from France and ‘supped in Andrew Lamb’s House’. Later Charles I, Charles ll, George lV and Queen