Old Town is a protected UNESCO heritage site that forms the oldest part of Edinburgh. The town maintains many of the medieval buildings and streets. Old town has five streets namely; Castle hill, Lawn market, high street, canongate, and abbey strand.
Some of the streets are very narrow and the town has a series of underground vaults and hidden passages. There are many notable buildings on the main street of Old Town, popularly known as Royal Mile including; St. Giles Cathedral, National museum of Scotland, the Old College and the Scottish Parliament amongst others.
The Old Town grew as a residential hub because of the fact that it was safe. Highrise residential buildings were set up here first as early as the 16th century. Most of these buildings were brought down in the great fire of Edinburgh that happened in 1824. Most of those damaged houses were then rebuilt later on, on the same foundation.
Recent developments have seen addition of new residential houses on parts of canongate. These new developments have increased the population of Old Town and there are now over 20,000 residents in the town.
The Royal mile leads away from the heart of Old Town, the Edinburgh Castle. Visitors must take a walk down Royal Mile to appreciate the medieval Reformation era buildings left in the city some of which are landmarks. Minor streets branch of this street and landmarks along the street are marked with large squares.
Venues in the area
Here are some of the attractions that visitors to the Old Town can enjoy.
The general assembly hall of the church if Scotland – construction of the assembly hall began in 1846 and it started out as a complex of buildings. The assembly halls themselves were built from 1858 to1859. The hall has been used as an assembly for many churches over the years and also as the New College Library.
The Edinburgh vaults – the vaults are chambers found in the arches of south bridge. Construction of the south bridge was completed in 1788 but the vaults were built when reconstruction was being done after the Edinburgh fire.
The vaults were initially used as storage spaces for merchants, to hold workshops for tradesmen like cobblers and to house taverns. Later on they were used to house homeless people and they became a hub of crime and illegal activities like gambling.
St. Giles cathedral – the cathedral is located on the high street about a third way between the castle and Holyrood palace. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles and is also referred to as the High Kirk of Edinburgh. It has a distinctive crown steeple that stands tall in Edinburgh’s skyline. The cathedral is the parish church for the Church of Scotland. The church dates back to the 14th century but it was restored in the 19th century.
Old College – old college is a building that is part of the University of Edinburgh. Currently the budong houses part of the administration block of the university, the school of law and the Talbot Rice gallery. The history of the building dates back to 1827.
Besides the medieval buildings and attractions there are many eateries, cafes, bars and clubs in Old Town where visitors can relax, eat and have a good time.