Did you know that the City Chambers, formerly the Royal Exchange, on the Royal Mile is built over an underground network of narrow streets where real people lived, worked and died between the 17th and 19th centuries?
The Old Town of Edinburgh is built on a volcanic rock just down from the castle. The main road is the Royal Mile, where a series of lanes and alleyways, called closes, extend out from each side. In order to develop the Old Town within the confines of the city’s defensive barricades, the authorities came up with a solution at the beginning of the 17th century to build tenement housing both upwards to the sky and down through the undergrounds, carving deep streets into the city.
Who could ever have imagined that real underground life would start bustling beneath the city?
Later, during the 19th century, with the increasing development of the city through the New Town and with new buildings such as the Royal Exchange, the closes were progressively buried and closed. Nonetheless, some of these alleys have survived almost unchanged through the last 250 years.
One of them has recently opened to the public: Mary King’s Close. It was the busiest and most vibrant of the closes at that time. Named after the most prominent businesswoman in the fabrics and sewn materials trade in the 1630’s, the close and its neighbours became a famous place which founded the city’s association with myths of plague victims, quarantines and mysterious tales of ghosts and murders.
Discover the true stories of the close with The Real Mary King’s Close attraction which gives tours of the ruins of several remaining underground closes: Mary King’s, Pearson’s, Stewart’s and Allen’s. You can find the entrance through Warriston’s Close and Writer’s Court near the City Chambers.
It is a fascinating insight into everyday life of 17th century Edinburgh!
And if you are fond of ghost stories, don’t miss the paranormal investigation held at Mary King’s close on 26th September 2015.
Voted the fourth most beautiful city in the world by readers of The Rough Guide earlier this year, Edinburgh is definitely one of the most photogenic cities.
Constantly captured on camera by locals and tourists, you can find on the Internet and especially on Instagram, thousands of breath-taking pictures of every corner of the city.
Here is our selection of the 10 best Instagram accounts you should follow to gain a fascinating insight into Edinburgh:
- @filipetd has an eye for capturing the majesty of the city
- @pascalpics is second to none when it comes to digging up secret charming places
- @bizka is the queen of finding beauty in the details of the city
- See Edinburgh through the eyes of a French Canadian expat with @markusinsight
- Discover more Instagramers from Edinburgh’s Instagram Community by following @igersedinburgh
And don’t forget to follow @inlingua_edinburgh to get the insiders view of everything inlingua!
Do you need some ideas for what to do on your May Day weekend?
We’ve selected three events to make the best of your weekend!
Spring Speyside Whisky Festival, 30 April to 4 May
Take the time to visit Speyside, known to be the “Malt Whisky Country” with the highest concentration of distilleries in Scotland, and celebrate whisky through the Spring Speyside Whisky Festival. A variety of events are organised such as master classes, special distillery tours or traditional ceilidh live music. Check out the programme here
Scottish Lowland Longboard Contest, 2nd to 3rd May
Scotland offers many activities and surfing is one of the most exciting. Whether you are already fond of this sport or just curious to find out more about it, the Scottish Lowland Longboard Contest is an event not to be missed. It is hosted at Belhaven beach and the swell is promising!
Check out the Facebook event page here
The Old Town Street Food Festival, 3rd may in Edinburgh
The Three Sisters Bar welcomes again The Old Town Street Food Festival this Sunday. It is the opportunity to taste the best variety of street food vendors and enjoy live bands, coming from across the country.
Check out the line up and all the featured vendors on the Facebook event page, here
Today, the 1st May, is widely celebrated around the world as International Worker’s Day. But did you know that May Day is also widely observed as a Gaelic Spring festival?
In the traditional pre-Christian European pagan cultures, the 1st of May is the first day of summer and the end of spring, and is celebrated with the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh on the night of 30th April.
Traditionally, May Day in the UK is celebrated through rites and celebrations consisting of Morris dancing, a traditional dance for land fertility, celebrations around a maypole full of colours and the crowning of the Queen of May. In Edinburgh, an older legend also says that young women who climb Arthur’s Seat and wash their faces in the morning dew will have lifelong beauty.
Photography “Crowning of the May Queen” by David Ayres
Nowadays, the British celebrate the lighter days with a longer week end as the first Monday of May has been a bank holiday since 1978.
So what’s your plan for this blossoming weekend in Edinburgh?
Aurora Borealis, named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn and Boreas, the Greek god of the cold north wind, is a fascinating theatrical sky phenomenon.
It occurs when solar wind from the sun collides with magnetic particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing a wondrous display of multi-coloured lights dancing in the sky.
Scotland is known to be one of the best places in the world where you can experience this fantastic light show. It can be seen anywhere in Scotland where the light pollution is at a minimum. The northern reaches of the country and northern isles are the top spots to see this fascinating light display. Shetland and The Outer Hebrides are also ideal locations.
As accurate forecasting is always difficult, luck is often involved but you can try to increase your chances of seeing the northern lights by checking Aurora Watch UK.
If it is not already on your bucket list, I can bet after having a look at these stunning pictures, it will be!
Barns Ness Lighthouse, near Dunbar
The Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides
Loch of Killimster, Caithness
Seacliff Beach, on 16th April 2015
Castlehill in Castletown, Caithness, on 21st April 2015