Scotland has always been associated with heritage and castle-like structures whenever it comes to architecture. One such explicitly remarkable architecture is highlighted in the capital city of Edinburgh at the heart of Scotland. Edinburgh is among the top 10 populous cities of the UK. 

Architecture of Cities: Edinburgh- Architectural Hidden Gems - Sheet1
The cityscape of Edinburgh in 17th-century_©Wenceslas Hollar

Edinburgh, then to now…

Edinburgh shows remains of architecture from various stages of history. The historic and new architecture of a city are both responsible for its cityscape or skyline. The city flourished from a central castle and developed a central street down the ridge. The city of Edinburgh has witnessed a rapid growth in population, which also resulted in overcrowding in the old part of the town during the mid-1800s. Historical architecture represents the culture and history of any place, while modern architecture speaks for the development and lifestyle of the residents. A lot of old structures in Edinburgh are in use to date for different purposes. The castle standing on top of a high ground serves the purpose of a university campus at the present day. 

Architecture of Cities: Edinburgh- Architectural Hidden Gems - Sheet2
The Old and New Together_©Steven Mcclaig

The city of Edinburgh is a splendid example of the coexistence of modern and vernacular architecture. The addition and alterations in old buildings by using new elements i.e., ‘The Bilbao Effect’ is a common observation in a city with such rich architectural heritage. Edinburgh also showcases the modern vernacular architecture in the current trends of architecture. Most of the modern architecture in Edinburgh can be observed to be exhibiting traits of its heritage. Use of local material, even stone, characteristics such as detailing elements, shape of openings, arches, etc., is repetitive in the style of architecture used presently. All these characteristics are now introduced with contrasting additions, or they are often imitated in modern-day materials. 

The economy of Edinburgh has always delineated a stable and thriving growth. It is even said to be one of the strongest economies in the UK. Thus, the economic factor has resulted in a rich architecture with expensive features. Music, more specifically orchestra, has had a place in the culture since the beginning of art. Hence auditoriums and cultural gathering centers make an important feature in the architecture of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is also known for its education and universities, which add another remarkable layout to the cityscape. 

The Planned New City of UK_©

The new town of Edinburgh shows a hint of Georgian architectural style. Unlike the old town, this part is not overcrowded. The buildings aligned along both sides of the road parade rows of attic windows, chimneys, fanlights, wrought iron balconies, pilasters and balustrades. This part lies to the north of Princes Street and seems to be carefully planned if one observes the streets, which have a symmetrical arrangement. The Neoclassical architecture in this part of the town is a design of architect James Craig who proposed in 1767. The town has three parallel wide roads lined with mansions displaying the Neoclassical architecture and gardens in a grid pattern. The further division of smaller lanes were surrounded by stables, shops and service accommodation. The buildings were vast in area, but did not achieve very lanky height. The size, number and placement of openings gave a gist of well-lit interiors in those mansions. White sandstone contrasting to black granite facades create a historical looking portrait. 

Some of the architectural gems in the city that are not very famous but play a very crucial role in the architecture of the city are the Chapel of Saint Albert the Great, The Botanic Cottage, Edinburgh’s Wild West, National Portrait Gallery, Scottish Storytelling Center, The Tudor House, The Circus Lane, Scotsman Steps, etc. For a person enthusiastic about culture, history, heritage, art and architecture, Edinburgh is not only a noteworthy tourist destination, but also a terminal to pursue related education.  


Pranjali is a fresher architect & a keen explorer. She finds tranquility in nature, traveling, reading, writing & architecture, altogether & discretely. She is fascinated by contemporary vernacular & sustainable style of architecture & hopes to promote it through her writing someday.