Top Ten Scottish Attractions

Top Ten Scottish Attractions

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       Scotland is a country occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain. It shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, Scotland is made up of more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides. Edinburgh, the country’s capital and 2nd largest city, is one of Europe’s largest financial centers. Edinburgh was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual, and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, was once one of the world’s leading industrial cities. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union. This has given Aberdeen, the 3rd largest city in Scotland, the title of Europe’s oil capital. The Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. Having entered into a personal union with the kingdoms of England and Ireland following James VI, King of Scots, succeeding to the English and Irish thrones in 1603, the Kingdom of Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on May 1st, 1707 to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. This union resulted from the Treaty of Union agreed in 1706 and enacted by the twin Acts of Union passed by the Parliaments of both countries, despite popular opposition and anti-union riots in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and elsewhere. Scotland’s legal system has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and Scotland constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in public and private law. The continued existence of legal, educational, and religious institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 Union. In May 2011, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won an overall majority in parliament and intends to hold a referendum on independence on September 18th, 2014.

  1. Edinburgh
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    Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, situated on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth which is the area where the River Forth flows into the North Sea. With a population of 482,640 in 2012, it is the largest settlement in Lothian, a region of the Lowlands. From its prehistoric beginning as a hillfort, following periods of Celtic and Germanic influence, Edinburgh became part of the Kingdom of Scotland during the 10th century. With burgh charters granted by David I and Robert the Bruce, Edinburgh grew through the Middle Ages as Scotland’s largest town. By the time of the European Renaissance and the reign of James IV it was well established as Scotland’s capital. The 16th century Scottish Reformation and 18th century Scottish Enlightenment were formative periods in the history of the city, which played a central role in both. The University of Edinburgh, which now includes Edinburgh College of Art, is the biggest university in Scotland and ranked 17th in the world. Identified as the UK’s most competitive city in 2010. Each August the city hosts the biggest annual international arts festival in the world, including the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International Book Festival as well as many others. Edinburgh regularly polls as one of the best places to live, having won more than 12 UK Best City Awards in 8 years to 2013. Attracting over one million overseas visitors a year, it is the 2nd most popular tourist destination in the UK, and was voted European Destination of the Year at the World Travel Awards 2012.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten European Cities, Top Ten Bridges, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh,
  2. Glasgow
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    Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and, as of the 2011 census, is the Scottish city with the highest population density with 3,395 people per square km. It is situated on the River Clyde in the country’s West Central Lowlands. Glasgow grew from a small rural settlement on the River Clyde to become one of the largest seaports in the world. Expanding from the medieval bishopric and royal burgh, and the later establishment of the University of Glasgow in the 15th century, it became a major center of the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th century. From the 18th century the city also grew as one of Great Britain’s main hubs of transatlantic trade with North America and the West Indies. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the population and economy of Glasgow and the surrounding region expanded rapidly to become one of the world’s pre-eminent centers of chemicals, textiles and engineering; most notably in the shipbuilding and marine engineering industry, which produced many innovative and famous vessels. Today Glasgow is one of Europe’s top ten financial centers and is home to many of Scotland’s leading businesses. Glasgow is also ranked as the 57th most livable city in the world.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten European Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow,
  3. Aberdeen
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    Aberdeen is Scotland’s third most populous city, and the UK’s 37th most populous built-up area, with an official population estimate of 220,420. Nicknames include the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen’s buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver due to their high mica contents. Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, other nicknames have been the Oil Capital of Europe or the Energy Capital of Europe. The area around Aberdeen has been settled since at least 8,000 years ago, when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don. Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record-breaking ten times, and hosts the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, a major international event which attracts up to 1,000 of the most talented young performing arts companies. In 2012 Mercer named Aberdeen the 56th most liveable city in the World, as well as the 4th most liveable city in Britain. In 2012 HSBC named Aberdeen as a leading business hub and one of eight ‘super cities’ spearheading the UK’s economy, marking it as the only city in Scotland to receive this accolade.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdeen,
  4. Edinburgh Castle
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    Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD). There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. From the 15th century the castle’s residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotland’s national heritage was recognized increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programs have been carried out over the past century and a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. It has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on several occasions. The most notable sections are St Margaret’s Chapel from the early 12th century, which is regarded as the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Royal Palace and the early-16th-century Great Hall, although the interiors have been much altered from the mid-Victorian period onwards. The castle also houses the Scottish regalia, known as the Honors of Scotland and is the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland.
    Links: Castles, Top Ten European Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Castle,
  5. Rosslyn Chapel and Roslin Castle
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    Rosslyn Chapel, properly named the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, was founded on a small hill above Roslin Glen as a Catholic collegiate church (with between four and six ordained canons and two boy choristers) in the mid-15th century. Rosslyn Chapel and the nearby Roslin Castle are located at the village of Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland. The chapel was founded by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness (also spelled “Sainteclaire/Saintclair/Sinclair/St. Clair”) of the Sinclair family, a noble family descended from Norman knights from the commune of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in northern France, using the standard designs the medieval architects made available to him. Rosslyn Chapel is the third Sinclair place of worship at Roslin – the first being in Roslin Castle and the second (whose crumbling buttresses can still be seen today) in what is now Roslin Cemetery. The purpose of the college was to celebrate the Divine Office throughout the day and night and also to celebrate Holy Mass for all the faithful departed, including the deceased members of the Sinclair family. During this period the rich heritage of plainsong (a single melodic line) or polyphony (vocal harmony) would be used to enrich the singing of the liturgy. An endowment was made that would pay for the upkeep of the priests and choristers in perpetuity and they also had parochial responsibilities. After the Scottish Reformation (1560) Catholic worship in the Chapel was brought to an end, although the Sinclair family continued to be Roman Catholics until the early 18th century. From that time the Chapel was closed to public worship until 1861 when it was opened again as a place of worship according to the rites of the Scottish Episcopal Church. In later years the Chapel has featured in speculative theories regarding Freemasonry and the Knights Templar. An extensive program of conservation is currently underway.
    Links: Top Ten Columns/Pillars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosslyn_Motet,
  6. Heart of Neolithic Orkney
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    Heart of Neolithic Orkney refers to a group of Neolithic monuments found on the Mainland, one of the islands of Orkney, Scotland. The site of patrimony currently consists of four sites: Maeshowe – a unique chambered cairn and passage grave, aligned so that its central chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice. It was looted by Vikings who left one of the largest collections of runic inscriptions in the world. Standing Stones of Stenness – the four remaining megaliths of a henge, the largest of which is 6 m (19 ft.) high. Ring of Brodgar – a stone circle 104 m in diameter, originally composed of 60 stones set within a circular ditch up to 3 m deep and 10 m wide, forming a henge monument. It has been estimated that the structure took 80,000 man-hours to construct. Skara Brae – a cluster of ten houses making up Northern Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic village. Ness of Brodgar is an archaeological site between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness that has provided evidence of housing, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building described as a Neolithic “cathedral.”
    Links: Top Ten Ancient Stone Monuments, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Neolithic_Orkney,
  7. St. Andrews Link
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    St Andrews Links in the town of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, is regarded as the “home of golf.” It is one of the oldest courses in the world, where the game has been played since the 15th century. Today there are seven public golf courses; the Balgove, Eden, Jubilee Course, Strathtyrum, New, the Old Course (which is widely considered one of the finest, and certainly the most famous and traditional, courses in the world), and the new Castle Course, sited on the cliffs a mile to the east of St Andrews and designed by the architect David McLay Kidd, which opened in June 2008. The courses of St Andrews Links are owned by the local authorities and operated by St Andrews Links Trust, a charitable organization. St Andrews is also home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, one of the most prestigious golf clubs and until 2004 one of the two rule making authorities of golf (in that year, the Royal and Ancient Club passed on its rulemaking authority to an offshoot organization, The R&A). In addition to the public courses there are two courses at the privately owned Fairmont Hotel (Torrance and Kittocks) to the south of the town; the Dukes and Drumoig, both inland parkland courses to the west A few miles further South are the modern links of Kingsbarns and the traditional Balcomie links at Crail.
    Links: Golf, Top Ten Golf Courses, Top Ten European Golf Courses, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Andrews_golf_course,
  8. The Crucible of Iron Age Shetland
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    The Crucible of Iron Age Shetland is a combination of three sites in Shetland of outstanding cultural and natural importance to the common heritage of humanity.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible_of_Iron_Age_Shetland,
  9. Holyrood Palace
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    The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the Monarch of the UK in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining. Holyrood Abbey was founded by David I, King of Scots, in 1128, and the abbey’s position close to Edinburgh Castle meant that it was often visited by Scotland’s monarchs, who were lodged in the guest house situated to the west of the abbey cloister. James IV constructed a new palace adjacent to the abbey in the early 16th century, and James V made additions to the palace, including the present north-west tower. Holyrood Palace was re-constructed in its present form between 1671 and 1679 to the Baroque design of the architect Sir William Bruce, forming four wings around a central courtyard, with a west front linking the 16th-century north-west tower with a matching south-west tower. The Queen’s Gallery was built adjacent to the palace and opened to the public in 2002 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection. Queen Elizabeth spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. The 16th century Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots and the State Apartments, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.
    Links: Palaces, Top Ten Palaces, Top Ten European Palaces,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Holyroodhouse,
  10. National Wallace Monument
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    The National Wallace Monument is a tower standing on the summit of Abbey Craig, a hilltop near Stirling. It commemorates Sir William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish hero. The tower was constructed following a fundraising campaign, which accompanied a resurgence of Scottish national identity in the 19th century. In addition to public subscription, it was partially funded by contributions from a number of foreign donors, including Italian national leader Giuseppe Garibaldi. Completed in 1869 to the designs of architect John Thomas Rochead at a cost of £18,000, the monument is a 67 m (220 ft.) sandstone tower, built in the Victorian Gothic style. The tower stands on the Abbey Craig, a volcanic crag above Cambuskenneth Abbey, from which Wallace was said to have watched the gathering of the army of King Edward I of England, just before the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Visitors climb the 246 step spiral staircase to the viewing gallery inside the monument’s crown, which provides expansive views of the Ochil Hills and the Forth Valley. A number of artifacts believed to have belonged to Wallace are on display inside the monument, including the Wallace Sword, a 1.63m (5 ft., 4 in) long sword weighing almost three kilograms. Inside is also a Hall of Heroes, a series of busts of famous Scots, effectively a small national Hall of Fame.
    Links: Top Ten Towers, Top Ten Warriors, Top Ten Swordshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Monument,
  11. Loch Ness
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    Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 km (23 mi) southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 15.8 m (52 ft.) above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as “Nessie.” It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil. Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 56.4 km2 (21.8 sq mi) after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth, it is the largest by volume. Its deepest point is 230 m (755 ft.), making it the 2nd deepest lake in Scotland after Loch Morar. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water on the Great Glen Fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south.
    Links: Lakes, Top Ten European Lakeshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loch_ness,
  12. St. Kilda
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    St Kilda is an isolated archipelago 64 km (40 mi) west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic Ocean. It contains the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The largest island is Hirta, whose sea cliffs are the highest in the UK, and three other islands (Dùn, Soay and Boreray) were also used for grazing and seabird hunting. The origin of the name St Kilda is a matter of conjecture. The islands’ human heritage includes numerous unique architectural features from the historic and prehistoric periods, although the earliest written records of island life date from the Late Middle Ages. The medieval village on Hirta was rebuilt in the 19th century, but the influences of religious zeal, illnesses brought by increased external contacts through tourism, and WWI all contributed to the island’s evacuation in 1930. St Kilda may have been permanently inhabited for at least two millennia, the population probably never exceeding 180 (and certainly no more than 100 after 1851). Currently, the only year-round residents are defense personnel; a variety of conservation workers, volunteers and scientists spend time there in the summer months. Two different early sheep types have survived on these remote islands, the Soay, a Neolithic type, and the Boreray, an Iron Age type. The islands are a breeding ground for many important seabird species including Northern Gannets, Atlantic Puffins, and Northern Fulmars. The St Kilda Wren and St Kilda Field Mouse are endemic subspecies.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Kilda,_Scotland,
  13. Links: European Attractions, Top Ten European Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland,