FEATURE – Buildings on Calton Hill

Edinburgh Spotlight loves Calton Hill and has recently reviewed the Nelson Monument which is the tall tower perched on the top that can be seen from many places around Edinburgh.

There are several other interesting buildings which are up Calton Hill and here we will take a closer look at them and what they are.

View from Nelson Monument

If we start at the top left of the above picture, we come to Observatory House, the oldest of the buildings up here and was designed by James Craig, architect of the layout of the New Town, and completed in 1872.  It was intended to be used as the city observatory but due to lack of funds, no equipment could be bought.  Today you can rent out the accommodation that has been restored there.

Observatory House

Right in the middle of the walled enclosure, which is best viewed from Nelson Monument is the City Observatory designed by William Playfair and completed in 1818.  It became the Royal Observatory in 1822 , but in 1897, the equipment was moved to Blackford hill, where the Royal Observatory still stands today.

City Observatory

The green domed building is Telescope House which is associated with the Observatory.

Telescope House

On the other corner, the smallest of all the buildings is the Playfair Monument, a square temple-like structure designed by W H Playfair for his mathematician uncle and erected in 1825-26.

Playfair from above

Perhaps the most recognisable building on Calton Hill is the National Monument which was designed in 1826 but abandoned in 1829 due to lack of funds.  The design was based on the Parthenon in Athens and was intended to commemorate the dead from the Napoleonic Wars.  Tourists love to climb the structure and pose for photographs, which you are allowed to do.  Locals spend summer days and evenings here, reading a book perched against a column.

National Monument

Another of the most recognisable buildings up forms part of a perfect Edinburgh view often found on postcards.  The Dugald Stewart Monument was erected in the memory of the Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University.  Designed by W H Playfair and built in 1830 – 32, it is almost an exact replica of the Lysicrates on the Acropolis in Athens.

Dugald Stewart Monument and classic Edinburgh view

We love this view so much it has become our icon that we use on other social media sites such as facebook and twitter.

Calton Hill is a must see when visiting town, or if you are a resident, the next time you are up there, you will know what all the buildings are.

Suitable for disabled ? You can enter by car from the Regent Road side and if you are using a wheelchair, then this approach is possible if you have someone VERY strong to assist.  You need to come back down this way as the other exit has steps, or go via the road (but has speed bumps).

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