: 5/9

5. Edinburghs museums.

In the field of arts, Edinburgh has a host of outstanding attractions for different tastes and interests. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery provides a unique visual history of Scotland, told through portraits of the figures who shaped it: royals and rebels, poets and philosophers, heroes and villains. All the portraits are of Scots, but not all are by Scots. The collection also holds works by great English, European and American masters. Since the Gallery first opened its doors, the collection has grown steadily to form a kaleidoscope of Scottish life and history. Among the most famous portraits are Mary, Queen of Scots, Ramsays portrait of philosopher David Hume, Nasmyths portrait of Robert Burns, and Raeburns Sir Walter Scott. In addition to paintings, it displays sculptures, miniatures, coins, medallions, drawings, watercolours and photographs.

The Royal Museum and the Museum of Scotland are two museums under one roof. The Royal Museum is Scotlands premier museum and international treasure-house. It contains material from all over the world. A vast and varied range of objects are on display from the endangered Giant Panda to working scale models of British steam engines. The Museum of Scotland tells the remarkable story of a remarkable country from the geological dawn of time to modern-day life in Scotland. The variety and richness of Scotlands long and vibrant history, is brought to life by the fascinating stories each object and every gallery has to tell.

At the heart of the museum is the Kingdom of the Scots. This is the story of Scotlands emergence as a distinctive nation able to take its place on the European stage. Here are the icons of Scotlands past objects connected with some of the most famous events and best-known figures in Scottish history, from the Declaration of Arbroath[14] to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Described as the noisiest museum in the world, the Museum of Childhood is a favourite with adults and children alike. It is a treasure house, full of objects telling of childhood, past and present. The museum has five public galleries. A list of their contents makes it sound like a magical department store. There are riding toys, push and pull toys, dolls prams, yachts and boats, slot machines, a punch and judy, a nickelodeon, a carousel horse, dolls houses, toy animals, zoos, farms and circuses, trains, soldiers, optical toys, marionettes, soft toys, games and much, much more.

In addition, the museum features a time tunnel (with reconstructions of a school room, street scene, fancy dress party and nursery from the days of our grandparents) an activity area, and video presentations. The museum opened in 1955 was the first museum in the world to specialize in the history of childhood. It also helps to find out how children have been brought up, dressed and educated in decades gone by.

The Peoples Story is a museum with a difference. As the name implies, it uses oral history, reminiscence, and written sources to tell the story of the lives, work and leisure of te ordinary people of Edinburgh, from the late 18th century to the present day. The museum is filled with the sounds, sights and smells of the past a prison cell, town crier, reform parade, coopers workshop, fishwife, servant at work, dressmaker, 1940s kitchen, a wash-house, pub and tea-room.

These reconstructions are complimented by displays of photographs, everyday objects and rare artifacts, such as the museums outstanding collections of trade union banners and friendly society regalia.

6. Where life is one long festival.

Edinburgh may be called the Athens of the North, but from mid-August to early September thats probably because its hot, noisy and overpriced and crawling with foreign students.

Over the next three weeks the population will double as half a million visitors invade Britains most majestic city.

If you are a theatre buff or a comedy fan, Edinburgh at Festival time[15] will be your idea of heaven. But the city is a centre for culture all year round.

In the run-up to Christmas there are hundreds of shows, including Noel Cowards Relative Values at the Kings Theatre and the Anatomy Performance Companys dance theatre at the Traverse. Romeo and Juliet is at the Traverse, Les Miserables at the Playhouse and The Recruiting Officer at the Lyceum. And outside Festival time, youll find it a lot easier to get tickets.

As for the visual arts, Edinburghs museums more than match any of the special exhibitions mounted during the Festival.

Most attractive is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, in a stately home on the outskirts of the city. Here you can find unbeatable masterpieces created by Picasso, Matisse and Hockney.

If shopping is more your stile, Jenners[16], on Princes Street, is Edinburghs answer to Harrods. And the Scottish Gallery on George Street is a happy hunting ground for collectors of fine art. Edinburgh is full of good hotels but its dramatic sky-line is dominated by two enormous hostelries at either end of Princes Street. The Caledonian and the Balmoral (formerly the North British) were built by rival railway companies in the days when competing steam trains raced from London.

You can also have a look at the Gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott, which stands in East Princes Street Gardens and was begun in 1840. It is rather high, and narrow staircase (a total of 287 steps in several stages) offers spectacular views of the city. Not far from the monument in Princes Street Gardens one can find the oldest Floral Clock in the world, built in 1903, consisting of about 25,000 flowers and plants.

Like all the best capitals, Edinburgh boasts cosmopolitan influences. Asian shopkeepers sell Samosas and Scotch (mutton) pies in the same thick Scots brogue, and the city is littered with Italian restaurants.

The city has three universities: the University of Edinburgh (1583), Herriot-Watt[17] (established in 1885; received university status in 1966) and Napier[18] University.

Edinburgh is also an industrial centre. Its industries include printing, publishing, banking, insurance, chemical manufacture, electronics, distilling, brewing.



Oh Scotia! My dear, my native soil!

Robert Burns

Scotland is a country of great variety with its own unique character and strong tradition. Its cities offer a mixture of designer lifestyle and age old tradition, while the countryside ranges from Britains highest mountains and waterfalls to the most stunning gorges and glens.

Scotlands national tradition is rather intense and much alive even now and is rather rare in the modern world. Scotland is part of Britain. But it is not England. The Scottishness is a real thing, not an imaginary feeling, kind of picturesque survival of the past. It is based on Scots law which is different from the English. Scotland has its own national heroes fought in endless battles against the English ( William Wallace, Sir John the Grahame , Robert Bruce and others).