Edinburgh is the administrative and cultural capital of Scotland. Though evidence suggests habitation as early as the Iron Age, the present city dates from the 11th-century reign of King Malcolm II and Queen Margaret.
The Middle Ages were times of continual fluctuation as the citizenry fought against invasion and poverty. As a result, Edinburgh&s early development was greatly impeded. Within the time frame of one century, two walls were erected to encircle the city. Intended to protect her citizens, these walls also inhibited expansion and contained the city for almost 250 years. After Scotland was joined with England in 1707 and defense was no longer the key issue, Edinburgh began to spread beyond the city walls. Even then, the first inhabitants of the new town had to be bribed to settle outside the city walls.
Edinburgh entered its golden age in the late 18th century and emerged as one of Europe&s great intellectual capitals. Dominating the city from atop Castle Rock is the oldest and most prominent surviving structure, Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Mile links the Castle with the 16th-century Holyroodhouse Palace, the official residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland. The Palace&s old Royal Apartments, the Throne Room and the present State Apartments, with their rich tapestries and period furnishings, are of particular interest.
The Old Town is the site of major historic monuments; the New Town, characterized by georgian architecture, is the heart of the city. Princes Street marks the dividing line between the old and new sections. Shops, hotels, clubs and restaurants line its northern side, while its opposite side is flanked by Princes Street Gardens.
Edinburgh is first and foremost a cultural and educational center. Its university, the largest in Scotland, was founded in 1583; it became a famous center for medical studies. The city is noted for its excellent galleries and museums, and the annual Edinburgh International Festival. Industrial development is primarily concentrated around Leith, which is the port for Edinburgh.
Please Note: For the September 11 turnaround in Leith guests on Silversea's Pre- or Post-Cruise program will find information on sightseeing options, dining and shopping for their stay in Edinburgh at the hotel's Silversea Hospitality Desk.