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The city in itself is stunningly beautiful and Edinburgh's architecture is renowned the world over. But as well as looks, Edinburgh has substance. It has played a pivitol role in Scottish and British history for hundreds of years and even today everywhere you turn there is a historical building or monument. With so much to see and do, Edinburgh really should be high up on the list of any visitor to the UK. Now just a ruin in the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Holyrood Abbey was an Augustinian monastery founded by King David I in 1128. Legend has it that whilst out hunting one day, David was attacked by a stag and thrown from his horse. However he was saved when a cross, or "rood", appeared in his hand. In order to thank God for saving his life David founded the Abbey, naming it after the "rood" that saved him. For several hundred years the Abbey was a thriving monastery. However, the decline of the Abbey began in the 16th century when it was attacked by the English in 1547. Then it fell victim to the reformation with many parts of the Abbey being destroyed. he 13th and 14th centuries, the only surviving part of David's original Abbey being a doorway in one corner.
Charlotte Square was part of Edinburgh's original New Town development, and today it is still one of the city's most beautiful squares. This elegant square, named after George III's wife Queen Charlotte, is the square that lies at the eastern end of the New Town development of Queen Street, George Street and Princes Street. The square was originally a much sought out residential area, however it is now predominantly commercial and administrative. One of the most important buildings in the square is Bute House which is the official home of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Also of interest is the refurbished Georgian House at number 7, which has been decked out as a typical 18th century Town House. As well as the usual collection of furniture, furnishings and crockery there is an interesting array of 18th century gizmos and gadgets. The Georgian House is open daily between April and October, entry costs around £4. However for tourists who have Scottish blood in them the most interesting buildings in Charlotte Square has to be the Scottish Record Office, housed in St George's Church. Here you will find everything from church records and property records to personal wills so it is a great source if you are trying to trace your ancestors. The Office is open from 9am to 4.30pm Mondays to Fridays. Admission is free.
The centre of Charlotte Square is laid out with well kept gardens, the focal point of which is the Albert Memorial in the middle. An excellent example of Georgian town planning, even if you aren't visiting for a specific reason Charlotte Square is a delight to just wander around. Edinburgh is situated on top of seven hills which are the remains of a series of volcanic outcrops, Calton Hill being one of them.
Situated at the eastern end of Princes Street, Calton hill marks the edge of the original New Town development.
From the top of the hill there are some fantastic views across the New Town all the way to the Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and beyond to Arthur's Seat.
But aside from the views, Calton Hill has several well-known landmarks ranging from the poignant Burns Memorial to the bizarre National Monument. Other tourist sites on the hill include the Nelson Monument and the popular City Observatory.
The City Observatory is also known as the Calton Hill Observatory. The site is enclosed by a boundary wall with a monument to John Playfair, president of the Edinburgh Astronomical Institution, in the southeast corner. The oldest part is the Gothic Tower in the southwest corner, facing Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle. It is also known as Observatory House, the Old Observatory, or after its designer James Craig House. The central building with the appearance of a Greek temple is the Playfair Building, named either after the building's designer William Henry Playfair. This houses the 6-inch (15 cm) refractor in its dome and the 6.4-inch (16 cm) transit telescope in its eastern wing. The largest dome of the site is the City Dome in the northeast corner. During the early 20th century this contained a 22-inch (56 cm) refractor.