5 Fun Facts About Edinburgh, Scotland

Learn five fun facts about Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s easy to see why people travel to this incredible place from all over the world!

Learn five fun facts about Edinburgh, Scotland. It's easy to see why people travel to this incredible place from all over the world! #visitscotland #edinburgh
Photo credit Mama Smiles

Edinburgh, Scotland is one of my favorite places in the world! My husband and I lived there during grad school, and our oldest child Emma was born in Edinburgh. We’ve since taken all four kids back to visit – twice, staying for a month each time. Today I’m sharing 5 of our favorite fun facts about Edinburgh.

5 Fun Edinburgh Facts

#1 Edinburgh is built on top of old volcanoes.

Two of Edinburgh’s most well-known sites are built on top of volcanoes! Over 340 million years ago, volcanic eruptions created Castle Rock. Edinburgh Castle now sits on top of this extinct volcano.

Arthur’s Seat is actually a dormant volcano, although it hasn’t erupted in hundreds of millions of years.

#2 There are three different royal residences in Edinburgh.

Holyrood Palace is one of three royal residences in Edinburgh
Photo credit Mama Smiles

Although there are three different royal residences, only one is still used by the royal family as a home and that is only in the summertime.

Edinburgh Castle is the oldest royal residence. It includes St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, dating back to the 12th century. There is evidence that people have been living on top of Castle Rock since 850 BCE – that makes it one of the longest continually inhabited sites in Scotland!

Craigmillar Castle is the second oldest, although it is now in ruins. Kings and queens did not typically live here, but Mary Queen of Scots famously sought refuge here after giving birth to King James in Edinburgh Castle.

Holyrood Palace remains an active royal residence! The Queen holds garden parties here every summer. You can tour parts of Holyrood Palace when the queen is not in residence, and you can get a great view of the palace any time from the side of the Salisbury Crags.

#3 Edinburgh is home to one of the world’s younger parliaments.

Learn about Scottish Parliament and more Edinburgh facts
Photo Credit Mama Smiles

The modern-day Scottish Parliament was founded on May 12th, 1999. Mike and I got to watch the new Parliament building go up while we were in grad school – a piece of history in the making! We recommend touring the Scottish Parliament if you visit the city.

However, it’s not actually the first parliament in Scottish history. There was an original Parliament of Scotland beginning in the 13th century. That parliament ended when the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England merged in the 1707 Acts of Union.

Many Scottish citizens were unhappy with this union for hundreds of years. In 1997 they officially voted for more autonomy. That vote eventually led to the modern-day parliament. There is a continuing movement within Scotland for increasing independence from England, with new acts passed in 2012 and 2016 to expand Parliament’s powers.

#4 The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world’s largest arts festival.

Every August the entire city transforms to host the world’s largest arts festival! The Fringe Festival hosts tens of thousands of performances of thousands of shows in hundreds of venues. It’s an experience like no other! There is something for everyone, with all of the performing arts on show.

#5 Edinburgh is an author city.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling famously wrote parts of her Harry Potter series in the now famous Elephant House Cafe, and she still lives in the city today.  Contemporary authors Ian Rankin, Kate Atkinson, and Alexander McCall Smith also live in Edinburgh. McCall Smith even wrote Rankin in as a character in his Edinburgh-based novel, 44 Scotland Street.

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh. You can actually stay in his childhood home at 17 Heriot Row. Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is from Edinburgh, and Sir Walter Scott may be the most famous native Edinburgh author.

Have you ever been to Scotland? What are your favorite facts about Edinburgh? 

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MaryAnne was raised in the United States, Guatemala, France, Bolivia, and Austria. Her first daughter was born in Scotland, and she now lives with her husband and their four children in Silicon Valley, California. You can find MaryAnne writing about family travel, parenting, crafts, and education at Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting.
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