Edinburgh and the Lothians Sights

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Calton Hill

Calton Hill Review

Robert Louis Stevenson's favorite view of his beloved city was from the top of this hill. The architectural styles represented by the extraordinary collection of monuments here include mock Gothic—the Old Observatory, for example—and neoclassical. Under the latter category falls the monument by William Playfair (1789–1857) designed to honor his talented uncle, the geologist and mathematician John Playfair (1748–1819), as well as his cruciform New Observatory. The piece that commands the most attention, however, is the so-called National Monument, often referred to as "Scotland's Disgrace." Intended to mimic Athens's Parthenon, this monument to the dead of the Napoleonic Wars was started in 1822 to the specifications of a design by Playfair. But in 1830, only 12 columns later, money ran out, and the facade became a monument to high aspirations and poor fund-raising. The tallest monument on Calton Hill is the 100-foot-high Nelson Monument, completed in 1815 in honor of Britain's naval hero Horatio Nelson (1758–1805); you can climb its 143 steps for sweeping city views. The Burns Monument is the circular Corinthian temple below Regent Road. Devotees of Robert Burns may want to visit one other grave—that of Mrs. Agnes McLehose, or "Clarinda," in the Canongate Graveyard.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Bounded by Leith St. to the west and Regent Rd. to the south, New Town, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA
  • Phone: 0131/556–2716
  • Cost: Nelson Monument £4
  • Hours: Nelson Monument Oct.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 10–3; Apr.–Sept., daily 10–7
  • Website:
  • Location: New Town
Updated: 10-11-2013

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