An observatory. A set of Greek columns. A tower. Oh, and a Portuguese cannon. I’m sure they all tie together somehow. But when you first make the climb up to the top of Calton Hill, what you’ll find seems all a bit … random.
Scotland’s National Monument
Firstly, those Greek columns. While they look like they’ve been transplanted from a mountain in Athens, they actually form the National Monument, a memorial to the Scots who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Designed to be a replica of the Parthenon, the monument was left unfinished when funds ran out.
Always eager to climb up things, I paid the four pounds entrance fee to climb the tallest monument on Calton Hill – Nelson Monument. After being encouraged all the way up the spiral stairs with messages printed on the wall like “You’re almost to the top!” I came out to the viewing deck. It was a bright and sunny day but taking photos proved challenging due to the fact that a strong wind made me cling to the railing so I wouldn’t fly away.
It was an unbelievable view. You could look down onto the Palace of Holyroodhouse and its gardens, with Arthur’s Seat towering behind it. You could follow the line of Princes Street up to Edinburgh Castle. You could look over the streets of the New Town, or out to the Firth. (I was glad to get back inside the tower and out of the wind, though!)
The City Observatory and Old Observatory House
Amongst the other monuments on Calton Hill, was the Old Observatory House and the City Observatory. The Old Observatory House is actually available to be rented, with accommodation facilities to sleep eight people.
The Portuguese Cannon
There was no real explanation as to why this was here. It did look cool, though.
The Dugald Stewart Monument and the Best View in Edinburgh
If you want the perfect guidebook photo of Edinburgh, this is where to take that photo. Position yourself with the Dugald Stewart Monument to your right, focus on Edinburgh Castle in the background, and you’ll be standing in the spot where it seems that most travel brochures of Edinburgh are taken.
Whether it is for the unlikely collection of monuments or for the panoramic views of Edinburgh and beyond, make sure you include Calton Hill on your Edinburgh itinerary!