Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is built on a group of hills and crags between the southern shore of the Firth of Forth (which flows from the Scottish lowlands into the North Sea) and the Pentland Hills. Land at the ports of Leith or Rosyth, on the other side of the Forth Bridge.
The dominating feature of interest is Edinburgh Castle, crowning Castle Rock at the core of the city. Located in the castle is the 11th-century chapel of St Margaret, Edinburgh's oldest building. The Scottish crown jewels are on display in the castle.
Castle Rock is connected to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (c.1500) to the east by a road known as the Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare of the Old Town district of the city. Other notable landmarks in Old Town include St Giles' Cathedral (largely 15th-century); the Parliament House (which was the seat of the Scottish Parliament until 1707); and the house of the 16th-century Protestant reformer John Knox. To the north of this district is New Town, the largest area of Georgian architecture in Europe, and probably the world. Two other major attractions in the city are the Royal Botanic Garden and Edinburgh Zoo. From Edinburgh you can also visit Glasgow, St Andrews, Scone Palace and the Glenturret Whisky Distillery.
There is archaeological evidence of human habitation on Castle Rock in the Bronze Age (c. 1000 BC), which makes the site one of the longest continuously inhabited places in northern Europe. Castle Rock was occupied by the Picts in about the 6th century AD. In the 11th century Malcolm III, king of Scotland, had his castle here. King Robert Bruce granted Edinburgh a charter in 1329 and the town became the national capital in 1437. Edinburgh lost much of its importance after 1603, when James VI assumed the throne of England as James I, and removed his court to London. By the Act of Union with England (1707), the Scottish Parliament, with its seat in Edinburgh, was dissolved. Edinburgh is now once again the seat of government in Scotland with the re-establishment of the new 129-seat Scottish Parliament.
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