22 Cool Facts about Edinburgh

A city full of secrets and mystery, where something has happened around every corner and behind every wall, many of which are not widely known.

Personally, i consider it one of the most beautiful cities of this world.

So welcome aboard to learn some cool facts about Edinburgh! ?

1. Scotland’s National Animal is the unicorn ?

Most countries pick a real animal to put on their crests and banners, but not Scotland, because why not?

The Celtics who inhabited Scotland for hundreds of years had a rich mythology.

It had a certain majestic creature with a horn on its forehead.

They had horse-like bodies with a spiraling horn. And they represented purity, innocence and power. ?

Legends told about their healing powers and strong sense of independence.

Scots saw them the best representation of their pride and persistence and drew them on their banners.

2. Edinburgh is divided into an ‘Old Town’ a ‘New Town’

The Old Town is the original and only Edinburgh and Scots built it almost two thousand years ago. ?

It was a walled city where the inhabitants stayed inside for most of their lives.


Edinburgh Old Town
Photo by Anna Urlapova from Pexels


This has caused a lot of health issues, consequently, sanitary infrastructure couldn’t keep up with people.

Following the 1706 treaty and the union with England, Edinburgh opened its gates for traders. And with the flow of money, people wanted to leave Edinburgh for London to enjoy a better life.

The city fathers had a brilliant idea of building a new city, in order to motivate the rich to stay.

They started to build the New Town on the other side of Nor Loch.

The lake was drained in 1765 to create Princess Street Gardens then the Excavations were collected to create The Mound; an artificial slope connecting the Old Town with the New Town.

Additionally, they dumped over one million and half cartloads of earth brought from the drained Nor Loch.

3. The New Town of Edinburgh is designed after the flag

After the advent of the new town idea, Provost George Drummond and the Town council launched a design contest.

They called architects from all over the United Kingdom to show off their designs of the New Town.

However, the winner wasn’t an architect.

Yet, his design was simple and symbolic and was seen as a homage to the new union.

Simultaneously, it was also one of the first city designs based on geometry.

Eventually, it was modified and they replaced the triangles with squares and other shapes to cut down the costs.

In the process it gave the New Town design an American flavor. 

4. Edinburgh has the world’s biggest electric blanket ?

The road leading up to the mound used to get frozen during Edinburgh cold winters.

This proved to be impossible for vehicles to drive uphill.

In order to solve the problem and keep the transportation problem, they installed an electric blanket in 1955.

The city council installed the blanket under the road surface and it was 35km long!

Thanks to that idea, the road never froze again.

5. Edinburgh and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO added both of the Old Town and the New Town to its World Heritage Sites back in 1995.

It has more than 4500 buildings listed ?, which is about 75% of it.

Only the city of London has more sites registered in the list than Edinburgh in the United Kingdom.

6. Edinburgh has the World’s First Fire Brigade ?

The New Town kept expanding after its creation.

And in the 19th century the expansions were accompanied by fires. ?

Until one brave James Braidwood ??‍? collaborated with the authorities to bring forth a municipal fire service.

Braidwood led the new fire brigade. And armed with his construction expertise, he utilized the scientific approach to deal with fires.

It was under a particularly difficult test during the Great Fire when they saved countless lives.

7. Edinburgh and the inspiration for a major event in Game of Thrones.

Before Game of Thrones’ infamous fictional “Red Wedding”, there was a real, gory “Black Dinner”.

This gruesome dinner happened in 1440 when the young king James witnessed a mock trial of the Earl of Avondale.

The Earl answered an invitation for dinner with the king’s brother.

But was taken to the yard and subsequently beheaded by the king’s men.

8. The massive Witch Hunt in Edinburgh

From the 1500s to the 1700s, one of the worst witch hunts happened in Scotland. ?

Hundreds of women and some men went to trial as witches and later killed.

People suspected others based on reasons like being lefties, or red haired, or having even a particular birthmark.

They would later be roped to crosses and thrown into Nor Loch, and declared innocent if they sank.

However, They died as no one tried to save them.

If they floated on the other hand, people picked them up and burned them at the stake.

The place of trials is still there and they call it Castlehill.

9. Edinburgh is an important inspiration for Harry Potter?universe

J.K Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books while she was living in Edinburgh.

Although she is English, Rowling lived in Edinburgh to heal after some traumatic events.

She started the novels in London but really got the inspiration in Edinburgh.

The atmosphere, the roads, the spooky graveyards. Rowling wrote the first books in several Edinburgh cafes like: The Elephant House. And finally finished the book in the Balmoral hotel 10 years later.

On top of that, the film crews filmed many scenes in locations around Edinburgh and Scotland like the Royal Mile, Victoria Street, and GreyFriars Kirkyard. There is even a Potter Trail, a tour for Harry Potter fans around all relevant sites.

10. There is a Ghost Tour in Edinburgh ?

Edinburgh took advantage of having so many haunted places by organizing ghost tours.

In fact it’s considered one of the most haunted cities in the world! ?

Visitors can learn a lot about crazy killers, witches thrown into the loch, and ghost stories from their tour guides.

11. The Royal Mile isn’t a mile

Did you know that the most famous road’s name in Edinburgh is misleading? ?

Actually, its length exceeds a mile by about 107 yards, maybe that’s why they called it the “Royal” Mile.

12. Edinburgh hosts the one and only knighted Penguin in the world

Yes, you read that right. ? Sir Nils Olaf the third is the colonel-in-chief of the King’s Guard of Norway lives in Edinburgh zoo.

He entered knighthood back in 2008, and inherited his rank through 3 generations -hence his name the “third”.

Later in 2016, he got the promotion to the rank of Brigadier.

He received the honor in a special promotion ceremony. Which had more than 50 soldiers from the Norwegian king’s guard.

13. The birthplace of the Encyclopædia Britannica ?

The first edition of the famous encyclopedia was published between 1768 and 1771.

It was called “Encyclopædia Britannica”, or, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled upon a New Plan”.

Although it was partially a reaction to a French “Encyclopédie”, it became one of the largest in the entire world.

14. The Balmoral Hotel special clock tower

It seems in Edinburgh they have their own accuracy. ?

In a similar fashion to The Royal Mile, The Edwardian clock tower is 3 minutes ahead since its completion.

Because they wanted to decrease the chances of passengers getting late for their trains. ? And they kept the tradition going to this very day. 

Balmoral Hotel – Photo by Oriel Frankie Ashcroft from Pexels

15. Edinburgh is the United Kingdom’s Greenest City ???

The ratio of trees to people is bigger than any other English city, it also has a staggering 112 parks! 

16. Edinburgh Castle’s interesting seat

They built the Castle on a dormant volcano. It’s last eruption was more than 700 million years ago, and its name is Castle Rock.

17. Edinburgh Castle is still a military base

Talking about the castle, did you know that the castle is still a military base? 

The castle’s ideal location on top of Castle Rock, watching the city beneath it made it a military base even before the union. It kept the tradition going even after the union as it’s now an English Army base. People and visitors gather underneath it to watch the One O’clock Gun shooting daily except for Sundays.

18. Edinburgh is the home of the largest arts festival in the world ?

One more cool fact about Edinburgh is The Fringe Festival, or simply The Fringe.

It started in 1947 and is still going and growing.

The festival featured more than 55 thousand shows from more than 3,500 shows in hundreds of venues across the city. ?

The Fringe is so popular it doubles the population of Edinburgh for the duration of the festival.

It generates hundreds of millions in revenue and it has created more than 5,400 permanent dedicated jobs.

19. Edinburgh is the hometown of famous inventors and scientists

Like Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone and James Maxwell who had contributed immensely in physics and mathematics with his important works.

20. St. Margaret Chapel is the oldest building in Edinburgh

It is located inside the walls of Edinburgh Castle.

They named it after Queen Margaret who was heart-broken after her husband died, and she followed him.

Edinburg Castle – Photo by Aleks Michajlowicz from Pexels

21. They built a National Monument but never completed it

And they call it “Edinburgh Shame”, originally they wanted it to to resemble the Greek Parthenon in Athens but money ran out and they never finished it.

22. The New Parliament needed 10 times the initial budget

In similar fashion to “Edinburgh Shame”, the costs for the new parliament were never accurate. Which seems like a running theme in Edinburgh. While the initial estimation was between 10 to 40 million pounds, It took 414 million by its completion. ?


What about you? Do you know any more cool facts about Edinburgh? Share them with us in comments below ?

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