Calton Hill

Grab your camera and head for the hill that features monuments, superb views and the seat of the Scottish government.

Visit Calton Hill to see a collection of monuments and magnificent buildings dotted around the summit of this extinct volcano. Calton Hill also has some of the best views of the city.

The hill is 561 feet (171 meters) above sea level. It only takes a few minutes to walk to the summit. There are steps on the south side of the hill to make your trek a little easier.  

Once you are at the top, pause for a moment to enjoy the sights. Immediately to the south are the Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat. Look to the west and follow The Royal Mile all the way up to the castle. To the north you’ll see stretches of Fife’s coast and the Forth Estuary.

For even loftier vistas, stand on the public viewing gallery of Nelson’s Monument. This 100-foot (30-meter) tower is the tallest structure on the hill. It resembles a telescope and commemorates Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson’s famous victory at Trafalgar. Watch the huge time ball drop from the mast at the top of the monument. It falls to coincide with the firing of the One O’Clock Gun at Edinburgh Castle. Ships used to set their chronometers by both signals.

Climb the steps and weave in and out of the Doric columns of the National Monument. This replica of the Parthenon in Athens was commissioned to commemorate Scottish soldiers who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Construction began in 1826, but the project ran out of money and was never restarted.

Have your picture taken by the Burns Monument, dedicated to Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Admire the art deco architecture of St. Andrew’s House on the southern slope of the hill. This is the headquarters of the Scottish government.

Calton Hill is about a five-minute walk from the east end of Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main shopping street. There is metered parking near the south and east access to the hill.

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