Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most eclectic cities. It’s actually the capital of the country, not Glasgow as some people would have you believe! This vibrant city has stacks of history and intriguing heritage, largely in creativity and art. However, there’s more to Edinburgh than meets the eye!
Here are a few interesting facts about Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland which you may not already know – even if you are from or live and work in the area! Sit back and let us take you through a fact file on Edinburgh.
Despite its spelling, and the American way of pronouncing similar place names, Edinburgh is not pronounced ‘eddinburg’, but ‘eddinbruh’. This might not be too fascinating to residents, but it’s commonly mis-spoken all over the world.
Charles Dickens found inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge in Edinburgh. He literally found the name while wandering a graveyard. He found that Scrooge had lived a life of being a ‘meanman’ according to his tombstone – and the story A Christmas Carol was born.
The famous Edinburgh Balmoral Clock intentionally tells the time three minutes too fast. This is to help people to get their local trains on time.
Edinburgh has held plenty of nicknames, including Auld Reekie. This is thought to refer to its poor air quality – the name translates as ‘old smokey’.
It’s thought that the nickname also arose from bad smells emanating from nearby Nor Loch.
Nor Loch – disturbingly – used to be a ground of dumping dead bodies. No wonder it smelled so bad!
There’s a penguin at Edinburgh Zoo with a knighthood. Brigadier Sir Nils Olav is unique in that he even holds a post in Norway’s King’s Guard – he’s colonel in chief!
St Giles Cathedral isn’t even a cathedral at all. It’s technically the High Kirk of Edinburgh and is actually one of the biggest Presbyterian churches in the country.
Rose Street’s origins are fairly mysterious. It’s thought the street was named after its high English population. However, it was also once known as one of Edinburgh’s main prostitute districts. Some believe the name derives from this history.
Edinburgh is well known for its Fringe Festival. This yearly celebration sees exhibitions, artwork and live music and comedy played out to thousands.
The Edinburgh Fringe is truly huge – in 2015 alone, it made Scotland £260 million, and saw almost 50,500 different performances.
Edinburgh is considered the greenest city in the whole of the UK. It has the lowest pollution and the most green spaces in the country, hugely different to its smoggy beginnings.
There are many vaults which are hidden beneath Edinburgh’s South Bridge. It’s here where shops would originally hold stock, however, damp conditions eventually made this impractical.
In fact, there are ghost tours which take people across the South Bridge vaults which go unused in the modern age.
Edinburgh also hosts its own international book festival. Not to be outdone on the culture front, there are no bigger festivals celebrating literature elsewhere on the planet.
Edinburgh has an interesting history as far as house step designs are concerned. You’ll often see that many houses across the region have one step bigger than the rest. This is thought to have helped stop drunk people from going home to the wrong houses.
There is only one statue of a woman in the whole of the city. That statue is of Queen Victoria. Hopefully more influential women will be celebrated across Edinburgh in future.
The first Encyclopedia Britannica was produced in Edinburgh. This was, of course, what people referred to before the days of the internet.
Edinburgh University is widely recognised as one of the best in the world. In fact, it was once recognised in the world’s top 25, and Europe’s top six!
The tiny country of Monaco couldn’t afford to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972, after winning in 1971. Therefore, they agreed to host the contest in Edinburgh instead!
The odd phrase ‘you’ll have had your tea’ emanates from Edinburgh. This phrase is used to, effectively, avoid having to make tea or put on hospitality for visitors!
There are dormant volcanoes which surround the city. Many people assume that they are mountains – however, they just haven’t erupted for hundreds of millions of years!
It’s thought that Edinburgh’s unique landscape was partly formed by a glacier.
Curiously enough, there used to be an elephant resident at Edinburgh Castle. The pachyderm was brought across from Sri Lanka and was once the local mascot.
Believe it or not, Edinburgh was not always the capital city of Scotland. That title once fell to the town of Scone.
There’s an ancient part of the city, older than the Old Town, which was filled with rubble in 1985. This means that there’s history beneath the stones we just can’t see!
The oldest building in the city is St Margaret’s Chapel, which sits within the castle’s walls.
Edinburgh is, believe it or not, roughly modelled on Athens, Greece. This is because denizens originally had plans to make the city a capital for medicine and philosophy.
There’s a portion of the castle which was built for eavesdropping! This is called the ‘Laird’s Lug’, or ‘Lord’s Ear’.
Fire fighting has roots in Edinburgh. Specifically, it was the work of James Braidwood, local to the city, who would instruct people on how to put out fires. Sadly, it would be fire that ultimately took his life, while still working at the age of 60.
The coronation stone of Scotland can still be found in the heart of the castle. The Stone of Destiny is, allegedly, a fake – as legend states that it may have been swapped out at some point!
The Royal Mile, one of Edinburgh’s most famous streets, isn’t a mile at all – it’s about 107 yards too long. This is where the term ‘Scottish Mile’ comes from!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Edinburgh that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!