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13 Surprising Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Edinburgh

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Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a place rich in history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. While many people are familiar with its iconic landmarks like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, there are several lesser-known facts about this enchanting city that might surprise you. In this article, we will delve into 13 intriguing facts that will deepen your understanding and appreciation for the unique charm of Edinburgh.

Table  of Contents

  1. The City 1 of Festivals
  2. The Birthplace of Harry Potter
  3. A UNESCO City of Literature
  4. Underground Secrets: The Real Mary King’s Close
  5. The One O’Clock Gun
  6. The World’s Largest Monument to a Writer
  7. Home to the Oldest Masonic Lodge
  8. The Haunted Vaults of Edinbargh
  9. The Surprising Scottish National Animal
  10. The City with a High Volcano
  11. Edinbargh Royal Yacht Britannia
  12. The Mysterious Half-Moon Battery
  13. The Edinbargh Zoo Penguin Parade

The City of Festivals

Edinburgh is renowned as the “City of Festivals” due to its vibrant and diverse cultural scene. The most famous festival held here is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. Every August, the city comes alive with performances ranging from comedy shows to theatrical productions, attracting artists and visitors from around the globe.


The Birthplace of Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling, the author of the beloved Harry Potter series, found her inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the enchanting city of Edinburgh. The city’s picturesque landscapes, winding streets, and majestic architecture served as a muse for the magical world she created. You can even visit The Elephant House cafe, where Rowling wrote some of the early chapters of the famous book series.

A UNESCO City of Literature

Edinburgh holds the prestigious title of a UNESCO City of Literature. The city has a rich literary history, being home to renowned writers such as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Arthur Conan Doyle. Edinbargh literary legacy is celebrated through various events, book festivals, and a wide range of literary tours and attractions.

Underground Secrets: The Real Mary King’s Close

Beneath the bustling streets of Edinbargh lies a hidden world known as Mary King’s Close. This underground network of narrow streets and hidden rooms dates back to the 17th century and offers a glimpse into the city’s dark and mysterious past. Guided tours take visitors through this fascinating time capsule, revealing stories of plague, poverty, and ghostly encounters.

The One O’Clock Gun

Every day at precisely 1 o’clock, a historic tradition takes place at Edinburgh Castle. Known as the One O’Clock Gun, a cannon is fired to mark the time. This practice began in 1861 to help sailors in the Firth of Forth synchronize their timekeeping. Today, visitors can witness this unique spectacle and feel the reverberations of history.


The World’s Largest Monument to a Writer

Standing proudly atop Carlton Hill is the National Monument of Scotland, often referred to as the “Edinbargh Disgrace.” Originally intended to be a memorial for Scottish soldiers who perished in the Napoleonic Wars, this incomplete structure now serves as a reminder of the city’s ambitious yet unfinished project. Despite its incomplete state, the monument offers breathtaking panoramic views of Edinbargh .

Home to the Oldest Masonic Lodge

Mary’s Chapel, situated in the heart of Edinburgh, holds the distinction of being the oldest purpose-built Masonic lodge in the world. Founded in 1599, this historic building has served as a gathering place for Freemasons for over four centuries. Visitors can explore the chapel and learn about the fascinating rituals and traditions of this ancient fraternity.

The Haunted Vaults of Edinburgh

Beneath the vibrant streets of the Old Town lie a network of eerie underground vaults. These vaults, once used for storage and businesses, became neglected over time and gained a reputation for their paranormal activity. Guided ghost tours offer visitors a spine-chilling experience as they explore the dimly lit vaults and listen to stories of restless spirits and unexplained phenomena.

The Surprising Scottish National Animal

While many countries have national animals like the bald eagle or the lion, Scotland has a rather unexpected choice—the unicorn. The mythical creature with a single horn has been Scotland’s national animal since the 12th century. The unicorn symbolizes strength, purity, and pride, and its image can be seen throughout the city, from the coats of arms to various landmarks.

The City with a High Volcano

What may come as a surprise is that Edinbargh is built on an extinct volcano. Arthur’s Seat, the prominent hill in Holy rood Park, is actually the remnants of a volcano that last erupted over 350 million years ago. Today, Arthur’s Seat offers stunning panoramic views of the city and serves as a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.


Edinburgh’s Royal Yacht Britannia

Step aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia and immerse yourself in the world of British royalty. This decommissioned yacht served as the floating residence of Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family for over four decades. Now permanently berthed at the historic port of Leith, visitors can explore the luxurious interiors, discover royal artifacts, and gain insights into the lives of the British monarchy.

The Mysterious Half-Moon Battery

Edinburgh Castle boasts a peculiar structure known as the Half-Moon Battery. This architectural feature, added during the 18th century, was designed to enhance the castle’s defenses. However, it has a unique twist—the Half-Moon Battery is actually an optical illusion. When viewed from certain angles, it appears as a full moon, creating a fascinating visual spectacle.

The Edinburgh Zoo Penguin Parade

Every day at Edinbargh Zoo, visitors have the opportunity to witness the famous penguin parade. This delightful spectacle involves a group of penguins waddling through the zoo, captivating the hearts of both young and old. The parade is a favorite attraction and provides a close-up encounter with these adorable creatures in their carefully constructed habitat.


Edinburgh is a city that never ceases to amaze. Beyond its famous landmarks and historic sites, there is a tapestry of hidden gems and surprising facts waiting to be discovered. From its vibrant festivals and literary heritage to its underground mysteries and unique traditions, Edinbargh offers a truly captivating experience for visitors from around the world. So, the next time you find yourself in this magical city, keep these surprising facts in mind as you explore its enchanting streets.


  1. Is Edinburgh Castle haunted? While there have been numerous reports of paranormal activity in Edinburgh Castle, the existence of ghosts remains a subject of debate and speculation.
  2. Can I visit the underground vaults of Edinburgh? Yes, guided tours are available for visitors to explore the mysterious underground vaults of Edinbargh and learn about their fascinating history.
  3. How can I attend the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? The Edinbargh Festival Fringe is an open-access festival, and performers can register to participate. As a visitor, you can check the festival
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