Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, oozes with history, intrigue and natural beauty and it is likely just some of the reasons why so many literary greats, from Robert Burns to J.K. Rowling, find the city inspiring. The city’s love of books is undeniable too, prompting UNESCO to name it the first ever World City of Literature over a decade ago. Without the Scottish capital, generations of people wouldn’t have grown up and gotten to know a certain boy wizard nor gone on mysterious adventures with the world’s most capable, yet exasperating detective. To make the most out of your trip to bookworms favourite city Edinburgh, make sure you stop by these notable sights and attractions.
Bookworms Favourite City Edinburgh
The massive statue of Sir Walter Scott is the largest memorial dedicated to a writer in the world. Considering his contributions to literature (he was a successful playwright, novelist, and poet), it seems fitting that his memory is honored with such bravado. The Victorian Gothic structure stands in the Princes Street Gardens, in Edinburgh’s Old Town and just a stone throw’s away from Waverly Station, which incidentally was also named in honor of famous Scot. Waverly was one of his most notable novels.
The Scott Monument is open daily and charges 5 pounds for those who wish to climb the 287 steps that will take the visitor to the viewing platform within the tower. Cash is the only method of payment accepted.
Scottish Parliament Building
Despite being marred by controversy, the Scottish Parliament Building is a sight to see in bookworms favourite city Edinburgh . The home of the unicameral Scottish parliament was designed by a Catalan Enric Miralles and cost an astonishing 414 million pounds to build, more than 10 times its initial budget. Its post-modern architecture style aimed to convey a true representation of Scottish national identity and pay homage to the literary contributions of famous Scots by inscribing quotes of their bodies of work into the concrete slabs.
The parliament building is open to the public and tours are free of charge all year round.
Bookworms Favourite Edinburgh Café: Elephant House/Spoon
What these two cafes have in common has been thoroughly documented in recent years and for many, the start of bookworms favourite city Edinburgh itinerary. Both places provided the space and caffeine for a then unknown writer named Jo Rowling. The Elephant House, located just behind the massive National Museum of Scotland was where Ms Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Her usual spot at the back of the café provided the inspiration for Hogwarts (she was said to have seen silhouettes of Edinburgh Castle from afar and had a direct line of sight to George Heriot’s School) and where she came up with the name Tom Riddle.
Spoon on the other hand, stands on the same spot as Nicholson’s Café where Ms Rowling also spent many hours polishing her first novel in the series. Documentaries featuring the author during the early 2000s showed her talking about the Harry Potter books in that same café.
The Royal Mile
An evening stroll along the Royal Mile will initiate goose bumps for many, with its dark alleyways and medieval structures. It’ll make you think about plots described in many of Ian Rankin’s series of detective stories featuring John Rebus or perhaps the inspiration for some of Robert Louis Stevenson’s scenes for the novel Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Another reason for including the Royal Mile on this list of attractions for bookworms favourite city Edinburgh is because it’s tied to a number of other noteworthy literary spots such as Anchor Close, where the first Encyclopaedia Britannica was published way back in the 18th century; Lady Stair’s Close that houses the charming Writers’ Museum, a small but well-crafted enclosure that highlights the works of a trio of Scottish greats: Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns; and across from St. Giles’ Cathedral stand the statue of Adam Smith, who in 1776, published a book called The Wealth of Nations which gave birth to the theories of modern economics.
The Writers’ Museum is open seven days a week, though with varying hours, and admission is free.
The National Library of Scotland
Bookworms favourite city Edinburgh couldn’t possibly be complete without a visit to the National Library of Scotland. The John Murray Archive alone is worth the trip. The Edinburgh-born Murray’s love for books led him to set up a publishing house in the city which then introduced people to the works of British greats like Jane Austen, Lord Byron, and Charles Darwin, whose works are prominently displayed within its galleries. The library also holds a large number of Scottish works that include poetry and short stories.
Did you come across these sites during your stay in Edinburgh? Share with us your thoughts.