The city of Edinburgh scarcely needs introduction. Quite simply it is one of the world’s most singularly attractive historic cities. Over a thousand years of history have evolved around the seven volcanic hills whose abrupt basalt formations shape Edinburgh’s unique topography. Where else does a miniature mountain range rise straight out of the back door of the Royal palace and the national Parliament? Or the iconic view of the Festival fireworks bursting over the medieval castle on its rugged clifftop across the gardens of bustling Princes Street?
Such images reflect the intertwined strands of place, history, nationhood, architecture, arts and culture that make up the fascination of Scotland’s capital city. Its buildings make up a justly famous cityscape, the tall, cramped huddle of the medieval Old Town contrasting with the wide streets and squares and elegant proportions of the Georgian New Town. Here, tower blocks date more from the 1690’s than the 1960s. It is a liveable and lived-in city.
Around the city, statues praise the deeds of worthy people who in the Scottish Enlightenment made so many innovations and social advances that have reached worldwide. Here you can trace the steps of inventors of such diverse and influential items as logarithms, anaesthesia, the telephone, and Dolly the cloned sheep. That it is the city of James Clerk Maxwell and Walter Scott, physicist and author, of Adam Smith and David Hume, tells volumes of Edinburgh’s blend of arts and sciences, philosophy and social sciences. In Holyrood Palace, Mary Queen of Scots and reformer John Knox debated religion, politics, education and the place of women. But it’s not all high art and culture. Most cities have buskers. Edinburgh has bagpipers.
In August Edinburgh is overtaken by the world’s largest arts festival. In a unique blend, performances by the greatest musicians, actors and dancers sit cheek by jowl with thousands of amateur events and productions set up makeshift in hired rooms in the Fringe, and of course the famous Military Tattoo beneath the castle walls.
Right behind the Eursafe 2022 conference venue, climb the volcanic plug of Arthur’s Seat. Jump on a bus to one of the world’s leading Botanic Gardens. Further afield are the masterpiece of Victorian engineering, the Forth Bridge, and its spectacular new neighbour the Queensferry Crossing; or ponder the meaning of the extraordinary sculptures in mysterious Rosslyn Chapel.