Edinburgh Old Town


The Old Town of Edinburgh is made up of its medieval street plan and reformation era buildings, The Royal Mile was given its name in the 20th century, it runs on a slope downwards from Edinburgh Castle to both Holyrood Palace and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, there is many small few feet wide alleyways that lead steeply downhill both North and South of The Royal Mile.

There are many notable buildings in Edinburgh’s Old Town like:

  • Giles’ Cathedral.
  • The General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland.
  • The National Museum of Scotland.
  • The Old Cottage of the University of Edinburgh.
  • The Scottish Parliament Building.

There are also many previous phases of construction now underground as well as hidden passages and vaults.

The Edinburgh City Improvement Act of 1866 had some changes made to the North and South routes, put into action by two Architects David Cousin and John Lessels, the changes made where:

  • Mary’s Wynd was demolished and in its stead St. Mary’s Street and all new buildings added as well.
  • Leith Wynd was demolished and Jeffrey Street was built.
  • East Market Street built as an add-on to Market Street and New Street.
  • Blackfriars Wynd had its East side buildings demolished to create Blackfriars Street.
  • By linking Chambers Street to Cowgate, Guthrie Street was created.

As it was very difficult to get to live within the defensive walls Edinburgh was one of the earliest cities to have high rise building in the World as there was space restriction within the walls. Multi-storey dwelling didn’t become the norm until 16th Century onwards, the Great Fire of Edinburgh in 1824 left most of these buildings in ruins, The recreation of the buildings led to many passages and vaults being created under the Old Town.


The Old Town can be split into many areas as well as the Royal Mile from East to West:

  • The West Port is the old route out of Edinburgh to the West.
  • In the South-West there is the Grass market.
  • Edinburgh Castle.
  • Cowgate is in the lower southern section.
  • Canongate is a name given to the whole Eastern district.
  • Holyrood gets its name as both Holyrood Palace and Abbey are in it.
  • North-East of Holyrood you have a group of buildings called Craft-An-Righ.

If you would like more on Edinburgh Old Town why not try the Wiki at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Town,_Edinburgh or if you would like to visit Edinburgh Old town please check out our tours page where we will take you to Edinburgh Old Town and other attractions. https://eoscs.co.uk/car-tours-of-scotland/

To find out more about the attractions and places to see we have created a list to help you decide on some the best that Edinburgh has to offer Edinburgh Tourist Attractions.

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