Set right in the city's center is an extinct volcanic hill called the Calton Hill. The site combines lively shopping areas with residential neighborhoods. Near the base of the hill are the Scottish Parliament Building and other notable structures, including Holyrood Palace. Two famosus observatories reside on Calton Hill: the Old Observatory House built in 1792 and the City Observatory built in 1818. The Observatory site's four walls houses the exhibitions managed by Collective Gallery, the upscale restaurant The Lookout, and a shop selling snacks and beverages.
How to explore Calton Hill?
- It has one of the oldest public parks in Britain, bought by Edinburgh Town Council in 1724. One of the park's most famous resident, philosopher David Hume strongly advocated for creating a place 'for the amusement and health of the inhabitants.' The wide footpath was opened in 1775, which climbs gradually to the top of Calton Hill and is named after him.
- The incomplete National Monument and the contemporary art museum Collective are located on the hilltop, offering stunning views of the surrounding city.
- At the top of Leith Walk, near Edinburgh Playhouse, you will find a collection of lounges and informal cafes.
- Broughton Street is known for its array of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, all of which attract a largely local clientele.
- You have to see the Scottish Parliament to believe its impressive interiors. The exterior's many gorgeous projections depict tales of Scottish history and culture.
- The National Monument, modeled after Athens's iconic Parthenon, is one of the hill's most impressive landmarks. It was supposed to be a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who lost their lives during the Napoleonic Wars.
- Keep an eye out for the Nelson Monument, which looks like an inverted telescope. This memorial, dedicated in 1816, remembers Admiral Lord Nelson, who was killed in 1805 during the Battle of Trafalgar. But in 1852, a time ball was installed atop the monument to help sailors in the Firth of Forth precisely set their clocks. Six days a week, visitors can see the Time Ball descend from the Nelson Monument at one o'clock.
- This area is also home to the City Observatory, a Greek temple-style structure. Visit the temple to admire its beauty.
- Calton Hill hosts several August festival events and is a popular viewing site for the Hogmanay fireworks. A resurrected ancient Celtic custom, the Beltane Fire Festival is held annually on the last day of April.
- Princes Street, the major shopping street in Edinburgh, runs parallel to the hill. It is the best place to shop in Edinburgh.