Heritage case studies: Scotland
Heritage case studies: Scotland

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3 Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

3.1 Overview

In 1995, a large portion of central Edinburgh – the architecturally significant medieval and early Renaissance ‘Old Town’ and the Georgian ‘New Town’ – were included in the World Heritage List. Capital of Scotland since the fifteenth century, Edinburgh's unique character, a result of its particular combination of medieval fortress city and eighteenth-century neoclassical Georgian city, was given as the reason for its World Heritage status. The ‘Justification by State Party’ noted:

The particular nature of Edinburgh's duality is unusual: on the one hand, on a high ridge is the ancient Old Town, while in contrast, and set apart on a fresh site, is the 18th century New Town. The former is on a spectacular site, the skyline punched through by the castle, the soaring neo-Gothic spire of Highland Tolbooth St John's and the robust, nationally symbolic, Imperial crown spire of St Giles, a feast of ancient architecture looking down on the New Town, which in contrast is a calm sea of ordered classicism, the whole framed and articulated by neoclassical buildings of world-class distinction.

(World Heritage List Advisory Body Evaluation, 1994, p. 78)

  • World Heritage List: Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

  • Justification by State Party

Edinburgh New Town, view 1
(Photo: © Tim Benton) ©
Photo: © Tim Benton
Figure 5: Edinburgh New Town, view 1
Edinburgh New Town, view 2
(Photo: © Tim Benton) ©
Photo: © Tim Benton
Figure 6 Edinburgh New Town, view 2
Edinburgh New Town, view 3
(Photo: © Tim Benton) ©
Photo: © Tim Benton
Figure 7 Edinburgh New Town, view 3

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