Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. There is controversy over the origins of the name Edinburgh, which may derive from King Edwin of Northumbria (Edwins-burgh, burgh being the Northumbrian and later Scots word for fort or town) or from the earlier Gaelic 'Dún Eideann' (Fort of Edwin).
Edinburgh has a population of around half a million souls. It is the home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and the world's largest annual arts festival, the Edinburgh International Festival.
The City and Its People
The city is also a centre of banking, commerce, education, and food processing. Its nickname is 'Auld Reekie' for its former smoky atmosphere.
The city centre of Edinburgh is divided into an 'Old Town' and a 'New Town'. The Old Town is, in effect, the medieval city, laid out either side of the 'Royal Mile' which runs west-east from the castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The New Town contrasts starkly with the narrow alleys and 'wynds' of the Old; it was a planned settlement, laid out in the late 18th century, with broad, straight streets and tree-lines squares, and a calm neoclassical architecture contrasting with the higgledy-piggledy gothic of the medieval town. Princes Street, the main shopping artery of the city, forms the southern boundary of the New Town. Between the old and new Edinburghs lay a loch (lake) and marshy ground. This was drained to form ornamental gardens, which partly remain but were partly usurped in the mid 19th century to make room for Waverley Station and the city's main railway line.
There are three universities in Edinburgh - the University of Edinburgh (1583), Heriot Watt University (1965) and Napier University (1992). The city also has many notable private schools including Fettes College (the alma mater of Tony Blair), George Watson's College, George Heriot Academy, Castlebrae High School, Loreto College and the Marcia Blaine School for Girls. The school on which the St Trinian's films were based (St Trinnean's School) is also in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh has two football clubs; Hibernian FC (nickname: the Hibees) and Heart of Midlothian FC, commonly shortened to 'Hearts' (nickname: the Jambos). Both play in the Scottish Premier League. Rugby is also popular.
The Beltane Fire Festival is a Pagan festival held on Calton Hill on April 30 of every year.
Famous natives of Edinburgh
- Sean Connery (actor)
- Irvine Welsh (author)
- Les McKeown (classical musician)
- James Connolly (trade unionist and Irish political agitator)
- John Leslie (television presenter)
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author)
- Robert Louis Stevenson (author)
- Ian Rankin (author)
- Walter Scott (author)
- James Clerk Maxwell (physicist)
- James Hutton (geologist)
- John Napier (mathematician)
- David Hume (philosopher)
- Adam Smith (philosopher and economist)
- Tony Blair (politician)
- Malcolm Rifkind (politician)
Suburbs of Edinburgh
- Corstorphine was an independent village, but is now part of western Edinburgh, retaining a rustic seclusion around its parish church. It is also the location of Edinburgh Zoo.
- Cramond is near the site of a Roman fort.; it lies west of the city on the shore of the Firth of Forth and boasts some antique buildings on its narrow village streets. It is one of the city's most expensive residential districts. Cramond is connected by a pedestrian causeway to the uninhabited Cramond Island, about a kilometre offshore. Cramond Island was inhabited during World War 2 and was fortified with a pillbox, and several gun emplacements. The pillbox and gun emplacements can still be seen today.
- Joppa is a formerly independent fishing town east of Portobello.
- Leith was an independent municipality until 1920. It is the main port of Edinburgh, although its extensive docks are now being converted into affluent residential and leisure areas. HMY Britannia, the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II, is berthed at Leith as a tourist attraction.
- Morningside is a wealthy middle class suburb of south Edinburgh.
- Murrayfield, west of the city centre, is home to the Scottish national Rugby Union stadium.
- Newhaven is a former fishing village on the shore of the Firth of Forth just west of Leith. Newhaven is being heavily developed, and little of its original architecture remains.
- Portobello, on the shore of the Firth east of the city centre, is a residential and resort settlement, although the decline of 'traditional' seaside holidays in Britain has seen its fortunes waver.