22-24 Victoria St
The beautiful and historic city of Edinburgh – the capital of Scotland – is famous for its castle and the annual Military Tattoo (an event worth seeing.) We want to look at some of the more quirky and unusual attractions that may not be immediately obvious. But before we do, there’s one attraction you must not miss when in Edinburgh – the Royal Botanical Gardens.
The Royal Botanical Gardens are spellbinding with the many collections including living plants and a comprehensive library with many documents hundreds of years old. We recommend you book ahead and include an official Garden Tour for your visit, as this gives you more insight into what this important and historic place is all about.
Now for something more unusual, The Witches’ Well. Located close to the castle, a water fountain and informative plaque mark the spot where hundreds of people were burned at the stake for the crime of witchcraft. There was no allocation of a burial plot for witches, and their charred corpses were left to rot on the spot. It is worth taking a few moments to pause at the Well and think about those people who were tragically murdered – as it were – for crimes that did not need to be proven. It’s not a fun place, but a historical marker of terrible times when more than 4000 witches (mainly women) were burned on this very spot.
Equally historic yet less gruesome is Gilmerton Cove, a mysterious collection of chambers connected by passages beneath the Edinburgh suburb of Gilmerton. What is the mystery? Nobody knows what they are for! The purpose of Gilmerton Cove has baffled historians as long as they have been known. One fact we do know is the entrance was once beneath a blacksmith, and theories suggest the caves may have been a secret drinking den, a smuggler’s lair, or a place for religious outcasts to hide. Check it out, it’s one of the city’s biggest mysteries!
At the foot of Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano popular with walkers – is a secret garden that is one of the city’s hidden wonders. Created by a pair of doctors, it is named after them – Dr Neil’s Garden. It’s in the village of Duddingston and notably the good Doctors’ patients were invited to help alter the then wilderness into a cultivated garden, a reminder that gardening is good for mental health. The physic is a fascinating example of medicinal plant growing, while Thompson Tower is another feature that dates to 1825 and has an interesting history. Pay a visit and take some time to look over the glorious loch that the gardens are next to.
One of the most fascinating and original places in Edinburgh is The Library of Mistakes. You may need to learn about the history of finance to understand what it is all about, but put simply it houses 2000 books, each of which shows why people repeatedly make the same mistakes with a nation’s economy. It my sound a dry subject, but it’s genuinely interesting to visit, and helps students get a better understanding of economics.
After a busy day exploring the delights of Edinburgh you’ll need to relax with a drink, and that means popping into Bennett’s Bar for a well-earned pint or a whisky. This historic pub retains much of its fixtures from when it was refurbished in 1906. Stained glass windows, wonderful tiling, and a traditional wooden bar make this a special place to experience. There’s even a water tap for adding a splash to your whisky! The most interesting aspect is the ‘Snug’ – or ‘Jug’ as locals would call it. This is a small separate room where women – who were not welcome in the main bar – could meet, and they would be served by a hatch from the main bar. It remains complete, as it was when built more than 100 years ago, a reminder that pubs were once frowned upon and distinctly ‘men only!’.