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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

(402,000 in 1991)
Capital of Scotland. The old part of the city is dominated by *Edinburgh Castle, high on its rock. From the 11C a town developed around this, particularly on the route down the hill along Lawn Market, High Street (with *St Giles and the John *Knox house) and Canongate. Together these are known as the Royal Mile. At the bottom or east end of this was the abbey of Holyrood, founded in the 12C; in its grounds stands the Palace of *Holyroodhouse. With its courtyards of tall tenement houses on the steep slope, the Old Town retains a medieval atmosphere. But by the 18C, when Edinburgh's sophistication earned it the nickname 'Athens of the north', the need was felt for a more dignified modern city.

South of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh's ancient educational district. The university, established in 1582, now has as its central building the Old College designed in 1789 by Robert Adam. The Heriot-Watt university derives from the School of Arts and Mechanics Institute established in 1821. And George Heriot's School was founded in 1628 from the bequest of a rich jeweller and banker to James I and VI; it occupies a very striking 17C building in a Scottish Renaissance style.

The New Town, built on open space to the north of the old city, was launched by an act of parliament in 1767. The competition for its design was won by a young Scottish architect, James Craig (c.1740–95), who put forward the simple grid design which survives today. It is based on three parallel streets, *Princes Street, George Street and Queen Street. The most distinguished single feature of the New Town is usually considered to be *Charlotte Square, at the west end of George Street. The Mound, a causeway across the valley between new and old Edinburgh, was created by dumping some 2 million cartloads of earth excavated in 1781–1830 during construction of the New Town.

In 1994 the city acquired a virtually new theatre and opera house in the Festival Theatre, an extensive modernization and refurbishment of the 1892 Empire Theatre, designed originally by Frank Matcham.

Edinburgh contains many of Scotland's most important institutions, such as the *National Gallery of Scotland, the *National Library of Scotland and the *Royal Museum of Scotland; it also has the second oldest *botanic gardens in Britain. Every August the city becomes an international arts centre with the *Edinburgh Festival.

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