Calton Hill is a towering hill in Edinburgh that's part of the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it's home to numerous monuments and ruins, not to mention picturesque views. You'll find buildings currently in use such as St Andrew's House, which functions as the Scottish government headquarters, along with the iconic National Monument of Scotland. Fans of impressive architecture will find joy in visiting both, as well as the other impressive buildings on the hill.

    Potentially, a visitor could spend all day on the hill. You'll find quite a few points of interest to see, but it's easy to get lost in the view of Edinburgh alone. The grassy cliffs overlooking the city bring a sense of awe to most visitors, especially when viewing it with a backdrop of the National Monument. It only takes an hour or 2 to visit all the top landmarks on the hill, but taking your time and enjoying the view can get you through an entire afternoon before you know it.

    Calton Hill in Edinburgh - one of the highlights of 12 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh and 10 Most Popular Neighbourhoods in Edinburgh (Read all about Edinburgh here)

    Calton Hill Highlights

    Calton Hill is home to several notable monuments you won't want to miss out on. The National Monument of Scotland is the most iconic. It was originally envisioned as a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, but it never got close to completion. Even so, the towering columns and stone steps are a popular vantage point for visitors looking to relax and take in the stunning views of the city.

    In addition to the National Monument, you'll also find the Nelson Monument. This tower was erected in the early 19th century in honour of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson for the Battle of Trafalgar. It's the tallest building on the hill, making it stand out among the rest, and it can be used as a vantage point if you want to look farther out into the distance from the hill. Additional monuments include the Dugald Stewart Monument, the old Royal High School and the City Observatory.

    History of Calton Hill

    While there is some evidence of civilisation in Calton Hill back in prehistory, most of the hill's history begins in the 15th century when it was used for sports and archery practice. The natural amphitheatre of the landscape also hosted plays put on by the early Scots. Additionally, a monastery stood there for a time, but it was quickly abandoned after the reformation in the mid-16th century. The hill was a private barony for most of history until 1725 when it was sold to Edinburgh.

    The hill saw major growth in the 19th century, which was when most of its iconic monuments were constructed. Even before that, however, the hill was still known for the incredible views it afforded to anyone who climbed to its peak. In fact, Robert Barker, an 18th-century artist, created the world's first panoramic after being inspired by the stunning view of Edinburgh from the City Observatory.

    Good to know when visiting Calton Hill

    Calton Hill is always open for a visit and won't cost you anything, but that doesn't mean you can simply travel whenever you like if you want to get the most out of your trip. While you're free to visit at any time, reaching the hill's peak around sunset is likely to offer the most memorable sight, as the sky's colours change to bright oranges and reds behind the stunning Edinburgh skyline. If you're looking to stay away from the crowds, however, visit during any time other than at sunset. Early morning hours tend to be pretty sparse with people.

    Getting to Calton Hill is fairly easy. All you have to do is travel to the far end of Prince's Street, and you're there. It's also just a few minutes' walk from Edinburgh Waverley Station. Just be prepared for a bit of a climb. The 'hill' part of Calton Hill isn't a joke. While the path is paved without any obstructions, it's going to take a bit of effort.

    Calton Hill in Edinburgh

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