Table of Contents
13 Surprising Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Edinburgh
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a city with a rich history and vibrant culture. While many people are familiar with its iconic landmarks like the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, there are numerous fascinating facts about this captivating city that often go unnoticed. In this article, we will delve into 13 surprising facts that you probably didn’t know about Edinburgh. From hidden underground streets to unusual traditions, prepare to be amazed by the lesser-known aspects of this remarkable city.
Table of Contents
- The Haunting Tales of Mary King’s Close
- The Invisible Heart of Midlothian
- The Inspiration Behind J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
- The World’s First Fire Brigade
- The Mysterious Connection to Sherlock Holmes
- The Fluffy Residents of Greyfriars Kirkyard
- The Bizarre Story of Burke and Hare
- The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – The World’s Largest Arts Festival
- The Enigmatic Stone of Destiny
- The Surprising Home of the World’s Most Famous Panda
- The City of Literature
- The Hidden Underground Gilmerton Cove
- The Quirky One O’Clock Gun
1. The Haunting Tales of Mary King’s Close
Underneath the bustling streets of Edinburgh lies a hidden world known as Mary King’s Close. This underground network of streets and houses dates back to the 17th century and has gained a reputation for being haunted. Visitors can explore the eerie alleyways and hear chilling tales of the plague and ghostly encounters.
2. The Invisible Heart of Midlothian
In the heart of Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile, you’ll find a peculiar heart-shaped pattern set into the cobblestones. This is known as the Heart of Midlothian, and it marks the location of the former Old Tolbooth prison. Tradition has it that if you spit on the heart, it brings good luck, but be careful not to miss, as it’s considered disrespectful!
3. The Inspiration Behind J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
Edinburgh played a significant role in the creation of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The author spent many hours writing the early books in various cafés throughout the city. The stunning architecture, winding alleyways, and the majestic Edinburghes Castle served as inspiration for the magical world of Hogwarts and Diagon Alley.
4. The World’s First Fire Brigade
Edinburgh is home to the world’s first fire brigade, which was established in 1824. Known as the Edinburghes Fire Engine Establishment, it was a groundbreaking initiative aimed at protecting the city from devastating fires. The brigade consisted of horse-drawn fire engines and a dedicated team of firefighters.
5. The Mysterious Connection to Sherlock Holmes
Did you know that Edinburgh has a mysterious connection to the famous detective Sherlock Holmes? Although Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author drew inspiration from Dr. Joseph Bell, a renowned Edinburghes surgeon known for his exceptional deductive reasoning skills. Bell’s diagnostic methods and attention to detail directly influenced the development of the iconic detective.
6. The Fluffy Residents of Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars Kirkyard, a historic cemetery in Edinburgh, is home to a group of adorable and fluffy residents known as the Greyfriars Bobby’s descendants. Greyfriars Bobby was a loyal Skye Terrier who famously guarded his owner’s grave for 14 years. Today, visitors can see Bobby’s statue and pay their respects to this faithful companion.
7. The Bizarre Story of Burke and Hare
Edinburghes has its fair share of macabre history, and one of the most chilling tales involves the notorious duo, Burke and Hare. In the 19th century, they resorted to grave robbing and eventually progressed to murder to supply fresh cadavers to medical schools. Their crimes shocked the city and led to significant changes in anatomy laws.
8. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – The World’s Largest Arts Festival
Every August, Edinburghes comes alive with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. The festival showcases an incredible variety of performances, including theater, comedy, dance, music, and more. Artists from all over the world gather to showcase their talents, making it a must-visit event for culture enthusiasts.
9. The Enigmatic Stone of Destiny
Within the walls of Edinburghes Castle lies the Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone. This ancient symbol of Scottish monarchy has a storied history and has been used in the coronation of Scottish and British monarchs for centuries. Its mysterious origins and enduring significance make it a captivating artifact.
10. The Surprising Home of the World’s Most Famous Panda
Edinburghes Zoo is the proud home of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the only giant pandas in the United Kingdom. These beloved creatures are on loan from China and have captured the hearts of visitors since their arrival in 2011. The zoo’s dedication to conservation and research plays a vital role in protecting endangered species.
11. The City of Literature
In 2004, Edinburghes was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, a prestigious title that recognizes its rich literary heritage and vibrant contemporary literary scene. From Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson to modern authors like Irvine Welsh, Edinburghes has long been a hub of literary excellence.
12. The Hidden Underground Gilmerton Cove
Beneath the suburb of Gilmerton lies a fascinating subterranean labyrinth known as Gilmerton Cove. Carved out of the sandstone, this mysterious network of chambers and passages has puzzled historians and archaeologists for centuries. The exact purpose of the cove remains unknown, fueling speculation and intrigue.
13. The Quirky One O’Clock Gun
Every day at precisely 1 o’clock, a loud boom echoes through Edinburgh‘s Old Town, known as the One O’Clock Gun. This tradition dates back to 1861 when it served as a time signal for ships in the Firth of Forth. Today, it is a unique attraction that draws visitors who gather on Calton Hill to witness the firing.
Edinburghes is a city of endless surprises and hidden gems. From its haunted underground streets to its literary legacy, each corner of this remarkable city has a story to tell. As you explore its historic sites and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture, you’ll discover that Edinburghe’s allure extends far beyond its famous landmarks. So, next time you visit, remember to seek out the lesser-known facts and delve deeper into the rich tapestry of this extraordinary city.
1. Is Edinburgh Castle haunted?
No scientific evidence confirms the existence of ghosts in Edinburgh Castle. However, it is believed to be haunted by several spirits according to popular legends and folklore.
2. How long does the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last?
The Edinburghes Festival Fringe typically lasts for the entire month of August, offering a diverse range of performances and events.
3. Can you visit Mary King’s Close?
Yes, visitors can explore Mary King’s Close as part of a guided tour to experience its haunting atmosphere and learn about its intriguing history.
4. Are there any admission fees for Edinburgh Zoo?
Yes, Edinburghes Zoo charges an admission fee to support its conservation efforts and the care of its animals. Check their website for the latest ticket prices.
5. Can you take photographs of the One O’Clock Gun?
Yes, visitors are welcome to capture the moment when the One O’Clock Gun is fired from Calton Hill, offering a unique photo opportunity.