Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh's main hills, set right in the city centre. It is unmistakable with its Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline.
Building began in 1822, but funds ran dry and celebrated Edinburgh architect William Playfair only got to see a facade of his building completed. It was dubbed "Edinburgh's shame" at the time (and some still say a reflection of the Edinburgh temperament - make your own conclusions), but it's now a popular landmark and it's a lot of fun crawling up and down its giant steps. Plans since to complete the building never really get much support.
The top of Calton hill is an excellent and usually quiet place to come on any day, with its grassy slopes and panoramic views of the city, including down the length of Princes street (the main shopping thoroughfare) and Edinburgh castle. There is a good view North of the ruddy-coloured cliffs of Salisbury Crags and the undulating slopes of Holyrood Park.
Calton Hill is in the centre of Edinburgh, at the east end of Princes Street and has several 19th century monuments at the top. One of them being the National Monument - an acropolis that looks like a monument from Athens, Greece as originally it was to be a reproduction of the Parthenon at Athens, but only 12 columns were to be completed. You can also see Nelson's monument up there - built in 1816 to commemorate Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The monument in the foreground of the picture is the Dugald Stewart monument and is another Greek influenced structure.
It is well worth going up Calton Hill for the lovely views across Edinburgh and down Princes Street.
Besides being an excellent location for views of the city, Arthur's Seat and the official royal residence (haha), Calton Hill is also a great option for picnics or a simple lie-down/nap/conversation with the skies. Also has a handful of monuments and Greek columns for the trigger-happy. For those who are too lazy to do the 45minute walk up Arthur's Seat, Calton Hill is a good bet as it only takes 5 mins to reach the top.
When I am in Edinburgh, a treat for me is to climb Carlton Hill a little before sunrise. I take some hot tea and a scone with me. It is quite remarkable to sit up there and watch the sunrise. At the same time the city is awakening for it's new day of adventures. I smile as I think of it.
Here is a collection of monuments and a great place to enjoy the view of the city. And it's free.
Carlton Hill has two observatories, one dating from 1792, and the other from 1818. They now have exhibits and viewings of the night sky (that is, the little of it that is still visible today).
Perhaps the best-known monument is the Stewart Dugald Memorial. Dugald Stewart was a professor at Edinburgh University (as was his father); among his students was Walter Scott. This monument was designed by Sir William Playfair, and built in 1831.
Another prominent monument is Nelson's Tower, built to commemorate his decisive victory over the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in 1805.
One that was never actually completed is the National Monument. Nicknamed "Scotland's Shame", it was intended as a memorial to those killed in the Napoleonic Wars. But during the Great Depression, the funds ran out. And this was over a century after the laying of its foundation. It's still a popular site to visit.
Besides the views from Arthur's Seat and Craighouse Campus (which are the slightest bit better!) Calton Hill gives you a spectacluar view of Leith, the Old Town and New Town!
I go for a lot of walks around Edinburgh, and usually end up on the top of Calton Hill. The monuments there are in tribute to the people who died in the Napoleonic Wars, meant to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens. Apparently it's unfinished, it's a great place to get pictures of the city though!
I also watched the fireworks on Guy Fawkes night there! So, if there are ever any fireworks events in Edinburgh, you know where to go!
The National Monument, aka National Disgrace, was started back in the 1800's and never finished. It looks like something imported from Athens and stuck on Calton hill at the whim of some council toady because "that's what the boss likes". It does appear a bit weird but there you go.
Edinburgh is a city chock full of great views, whether it be from the top of Edinburgh Castle, the top floor of the Museum of Scotland, Arthur's Seat (didn't get up there) or Calton Hill. If you do find yourself climbing up Calton Hill, be sure to walk all around it, from different sides there are dramatically different views, the Firth of Forth, Holyrood Palace and much of Edinburgh. I understand that an even better view can be had if you climb the Nelson monument but I was there too early for that.
The monuments on top of Calton Hill don't seem to have any connection, they all just seem to be placed there, independent of the others. The National Monument, meant to honor Scottish soldiers killed in the Napoleonic Wars is the oddest, designed to look like the Parthenon in Athens, funds ran out and it was never finished. Also found on top of the Hill are the Nelson Monument, the city observatory and the Dougal Stewart Monument. I never did locate the Robert Burns Monument, it's supposed to be somewhere on the southern slopes of the hill.
To get to the top, take Princes Street to Waterloo Place, just past Calton Hill, take the steps up to the top.
I went up there one blustery Sunday morning, it was a beauitful view and definitely worth standing around in all that wind. I'd suggest going early morning on like a Sunday so there aren't as many tourists. There's a half finished Parthenon looking structure atop the hill as well that's a bit interesting, but really, its the view that you're after, absolutely spectacular!! Enjoy the panoramic views of the city and revel in the history of Edinburgh. There are no tall sky scrapers or anything of the sort, and on a clear day like we were there on, you can see quite far over the city and the river. We didn't stay long lest our awaiting cousins got hungry waiting for us to bring breakfast, but definitely a view not to miss......
I really enjoyed the walk on Calton Hill, it's a nice park over the city. That day it was sunny and warm, we could relax and rest between a visit and another. Nothing special to vist over there, only nature and belvedere.
While walking near Calton hill towards the Edinburgh castle i saw a beautiful monument.
I couldnt enter because the gate was close and i couldnt find a sign to tell me what it is.
After i saw the picture to a scottish man he told me this is Dugald Stewart's Monument.
Dugald Stewart was a scottish philosopher that lived in Edinburgh.
A very beautiful monument.
There is a begining of a building in Calton Hill that looks like something greek.
This building's name is "The National Monument" and it was meant to be a copy of the greek Partheon (the one in athens).
The plan of the building was to be a memorial for those who died in the war but they didnt finish the building.
The columns are huge and it is impressive monument.
Nelson monument located on the lovely Calton Hill.
The monument is to honor the death of Admiral Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar.
The monument is 30 meters high and the view from here is amazing.
Calton Hill is 100m high hill with great view over Edinburgh.
Here you see one of the best views of Edinburgh , enjoy the nelson monument or just sit in the grass and eat something.
I have to admit that I probably would have missed Carlton Hill had it not been for one of those city tour bus rides that we took on impulse. I'm much more of a city-center kind of guy and this place is definitely not. The hill is located at the east end of Princess Street and is visible from most locations.
I've included a website below which explains the strange assemblage of structures including a partially built reproduction of the Parthenon, the Nelson Monument built to resemble a stone telescope, an obelisk and two observatories. In my mind, however, the best reason to venture up to Carlton Hill is for the terrific views of the city. This vantage gives a real sense of the terrain and the layout of the entire area.