The Beltane Fire Festival, inspired by an ancient Gaelic festival, is held on 30th of April every year — go and let loose at this thrilling, pyrotechnic ritual
Rising over the eastern end of Princes St, Calton Hill bears Edinburgh’s acropolis. It is peppered with monuments from the first half of the 19th century, but also offers an extraordinary panorama of Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood and Arthur’s seat, making it both a great viewpoint and a spectacular sight itself.
In 1456 James II gave over the land which contains Calton Hill to the city of Edinburgh. As part of his policy of military preparedness, the ground was reserved for sports and warlike deeds; in the following year he banned golf and football and ordered archery practice every Sunday.
Today Calton Hill offers a more peaceful respite in the heart of Edinburgh. Among the sights to see are the Burns Monument, dedicated to the Scottish poet Robert Burns, the Political Martyrs’ Monument, the Old Calton Burial Ground, which contains the philosopher David Hume’s tomb, and Regent Bridge, made famous in the opening scene of “Trainspotting" and which was built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather.
The Scottish National Monument was intended to be a replica of the Parthenon, built to commemorate Scottish soldiers killed during the Napoleonic wars. Construction began in 1826, but stopped three years later due to lack of funds. It has never been completed, and over the years has variously been called, among other things, “Scotland’s Disgrace” and “the Pride and Poverty of Scotland”. Since then, people have come to accept it for the curious piece of history that it is.
Built in 1818, The City Observatory is a Greek temple styled building. It was here that Professor Thomas Henderson, the first Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1834, discovered how to measure parallax and the distance of stars. Today it offers exhibitions and views of an occasionally starry night sky.
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