|Written by Aija on the Edinburgh Address blog
|Saturday, 16 November 2013|
|One of the greatest assets of Edinburgh is its rich, centuries old cultural legacy – and none other is as impressive as the literary cocoon the city has been, being the birth place of many of the literary greats. And what better way would there be to enjoy the city’s finest than following on the footsteps of just, for example, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson or the more contemporary Ian Rankin?
Edinburgh has the honour of being one of the UNESCO’s cities of literature and as such, prides itself with numerous literary events, fairs and other literature themed accessories around the capital city. A lot of the masterminding behind the events is by Edinburgh City of Literature Trust, who constantly come up with new ways of celebrating the literary richness in the city (just look at their events page!). And of course during the festival season there is the ever-amazing Edinburgh International Book Festival. But when it is not festival season, there are numerous ways of getting yourself acquainted with the literary affluence.
For example, you might want to take part in one of the literary tours – the most popular and always exciting are the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour and the Edinburgh Book Lovers’ Tour And what is more, if up for it, you can conduct your own walk following the storylines of some of the best literature set in Edinburgh or written by a Scot.
During your literary exploring, you might also want to pop in for a hot drink and a delicious pastry while you browse the selection of books and rest your feet. This is ideal in the abundance of selection of indie bookshops around the city that also have cafes and events within them.
And after all that exploring of the literary scene and history, what would a bibliophile want more than obtain a copy or few of the thing itself; books! City of Literature Trust has come up with the amazing Bookshop Trail app that is up for free download on their homepage, and lists 53 bookshops around the city centre that are worth scavenging thoroughly. And as Christmas is nearing, it is always good to remember a book is a gift that keeps on giving – it does not go out of date and it does not wither away; it is your best friend, your biggest challenge and the greatest comfort one could have.
Never boring in the city of literature, with whispers of profound cultural inimitability following you with every step – what more could anyone want?
Tag Archives: UNESCO
The modern face of Edinburgh city – or so they say, as in all honesty, modern is only referring to the things you can do and what and where you shop, not the actual part of town. New Town is as rich in history and culture as the rest of the city – built in stages between 1765 and around 1850, and still retains the most of the original neo-classical and Georgian architecture. The Old and New Towns were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
In 1766 a design competition was held to find a suitably modern layout for the new suburb that originally spanned from Princes Street down to Queen Street, joining the crossing Hanover, Frederick and Charlotte Streets. The competition was, rather surprisingly, won by 26 year old James Craig, who, following the natural contours of the land, proposed a simple axial grid, with a principal thoroughfare along the ridge linking two garden squares. A nice contrast to the jumbled old cobble street and alleys (or “closes”) or the Old Town, especially with the stipulations of unity (such as how the wrought iron façade details must be painted black) and the communal gardens in the squares between houses. Small patches of respite amidst of the city’s hastiness.
The names of the streets speak for themselves; named after the King and his wife, St. Andrew’s Square and St. George’s Square were the names chosen to represent the union of Scotland and England, and this idea was continued with the smaller Thistle Street (for Scotland’s national emblem) between George Street and Queen Street, and Rose Street (for England’s emblem) between George Street and Princes Street. The three streets completing the grid, Castle, Frederick and Hanover Streets, were named for the view of the castle, King George’s father Frederick and the name of the royal family. Inventive, don’t you think?
What is more, the New Town is home to some of the greatest Edinburgh galleries, such as the National Gallery of Scotland, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as well as being sprinkled with dozens upon dozens of unique smaller galleries of contemporary local artists. There is more than you can imagine to discover; personal favourite would be the Castle Fine Art gallery on Multrees Walk. Castle Fine Art is known for its rare discoveries that include the renowned Alexander Millar and the occasional exhibition of either Keith Richards or Bob Dylan, to name but a few.
And that reminds me – Multrees Walk. One of the more high-class streets in Edinburgh, located just off St. Andrew Square, Multrees is home to such exclusive shops as Calvin Klein, Harvey Nichols, Mulberry, Louis Vuitton and Swarovski as well as a few lovely cafes, such as one of the two famous Valvona & Crolla deli’s, with unmistakable style of cooking that derives from recipes handed down s over the years from the owners’ families in central and southern Italy and all prepared from the very produce they sell in their own shops.
Another rare gem we would like to recommend for the drama lovers out there, is the Hill Street Solo Theatre – tucked away down a minor street this venue is easy to miss, but the Hill Street Solo Theatre has been in nonstop action since 34 years now, and is one main stay of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! Focusing on those artists out there that are interested in developing their solo performance work as well as offering workshops and talks of solo theatre, with extensive performance schedule, we would highly recommend spending a night cultured in this unusual jewel!
For a bite to eat, how about starting with the Urban Angel on Hanover Street. Their ethos of providing natural, season, fresh and as local as possible, mainly organic, daily changing inventive menus is what draws in loyal client base that would in a heartbeat recommend the wide range of deliciousness.
An up-and–coming area of Broughton Street is just down from St. James’ Shopping Centre, and for those looking for rare treats and unique shops and places to eat, you would fare well acquainting yourself with the offerings of Broughton. On Broughton Street you would do well to check out the Basement Bar, a fun place and even the staff states that “you won’t find friendlier staff, better tunes or a bigger collection of Hawaiian shirts anywhere in Edinburgh, so what are you waiting for?”, and we are bound to agree. Also, while you’re at Broughton and get peckish, try out the Bonsai Japanese Bar Bistro – amazing choice of sushi and other dishes that will leave you wanting more even after you’ve stuffed yourself silly! Another fine choice is Treacle, with a sophisticated vintage interior and a fair trade menu that reflects the season you could not choose a better place for your lunch/dinner and/or a drink whilst exploring the Street!
Another place for a good night out, we would recommend is the Fingers Piano Bar on Frederick Street. Although it does get extremely busy on weekends, even weekdays can provide you with a treat of piano players who truly know their trade, while you enjoy that excellent drink. All in all, great atmosphere and worth the crowds, if you’re in that kind of a mood. Reviews might be more than mixed, but try out for yourself, don’t believe all that hearsay, we say!
And if you’re looking for something really special, it is the Voodoo Rooms you want. Hidden away on West Register Street the Voodoo Rooms offer an award winning bar, with specialty rums, tequilas and amazing cocktails, and food served daily! But preposterously fine drinks are not the best part – the best part are the live shows that the Voodoo Rooms host, not just for the Fringe, nono – but throughout the year! The Voodoo Rooms aims to provide an electrifying eclectic and exotic range of music, cabaret, exhibitions, screenings and much more to ensure that you shall return, over and over again. And by the way, our staff party there just recently was a blast, great wine for good value and a show for a donation price that we know from experience the Voodoo Rooms are recommendable for that night out – fantabuloustic!
Does dusky purple lights that cast romantic shadows on the walls, jazz-centric music and fine dining sound like just the night for you? Then for a little bit of extra glamour, the Jam House is an experience not to pass. Superb! And for wine connoisseurs there is the treat of Whighams Wine Cellar on Hope Street by Charlotte Square, which has become a leading wine bar and restaurant in Edinburgh, frequented by local dwellers and visitors alike.
It’s not all about party-all-night and eat-yourself-silly, now, is it? Some of the finest views you can have of the city is up from Calton Hill. Climb up any time of the day to enjoy the sunrise or sunset over Edinburgh city centre on one side, Leith on the other and the rest of Edinburgh spreading in all directions – you can even see the ocean from up the Hill! The many monuments up on the Hill provide a rest after the climb, and especially the Athens’ Pantheon, which was built as a memorial to the Napoleonic Wars, is known for many locals and readers for a place to sit and take in the day, read a book or enjoy your picnic – if you get up on the monument itself that is!
The elegant, spacious housing that was to be the answer to the overcrowding of Old Town has proven to be a gem for The Edinburgh Address as well – we are proud to have not one, not two and not even three apartments in the area, but all together we have four gorgeous apartments in the midst of the New Town grandeur.
The two grand apartments we proudly represent are the New Town Chic @ Northumberland Street and New Town Boutique @ Northumberland Street. Conveniently right by each other, the two apartments are perfect for a larger group (can sleep all together eight) or two smaller groups (each sleeps four) when looking for a bit of luxury where to rest after a day of exploration, hill climbing, fabulous dining followed by wine, cocktails and a show or a few. Both of the apartments are ideally located in Edinburgh’s prestigious and central New Town and are in an excellent position from which to explore Edinburgh, being less than 10 minutes’ walk from both Princes Street, with its city centre shopping and the delightful Stockbridge Area. And you’re in for a treat, as with both of these apartments we currently have special offers, which you would be wise to take a use of!
What more is there to say? New Town has magic, hidden treasures in all its little alleys, nooks and crannies, and you never know – if you venture all the way down to Young Street, you will get a glimpse of the sordid night life of one of Scotland’s most well-known literary characters; Ian Rankin’s Rebus is known to frequent the Oxford Bar in Rankin’s novels. Why not become part of that fictional atmosphere, and make it a one-night reality.
The delightful Peggy Hughes amused the Publishing studies 2012/2013 class with her lively presentation on the UNESCO badge of City of Literature – a designation, which was bestowed upon Edinburgh back in 2004. The City of Literature Trust is head by Peggy herself and her boss Alison Bowden.
Why Edinburgh should be designated as a City of Literature by UNESCO, you might ask. Well, when a group of prominent figures in the literary scene having a post-prandial discussion they came to the surprising conclusion that as Edinburgh was “brilliant at books,” something should be done to make sure this would become general knowledge. Simply because Edinburgh has a huge literary heritage, and has a vibrant contemporary scene – already hosting some of the world’s most well-known and largest poetry and literature festivals and events.
Organisations from grassroots up to government level Edinburgh worked together to create The Bid, an audit of all Scottish literary accomplishments in two volumes – talking about putting things in a nutshell – We Cultivate Literature on a Little Oatmeal. It took a bundle of Scottish treats (whiskey, haggis, bagpiper among others) to convince the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Among her lively and very fast paced presentation, the class was entertained with best bits of past events that had aimed to hold Edinburgh to its badge of honour as well as a selected few spoilers over the upcoming events. Working together with other Edinburgh literary events and organisations, the City of Literature has proven to be worth every bit of the designation, more than holding its own among the others with its goals of establishing partnerships, promoting participation, learning as well as advocating awareness towards Edinburgh and keeping the focus on creativity, bringing people together in literature.
Thank you to Peggy for the grand insight into the Scottish literature scene and its uniqueness, and I’m sure the class cannot wait to see the ‘Stache-mob or join the Literary Salon.