Explore Edinburgh - Finding Inspiration in Gothic Architecture

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

As the fall leaves slowly start to fall and fade away, I go for a leisurely jog around the city and reminisce back to those joggers I saw jogging through the city in Edinburgh. Scotland has always fascinated me,with its long literary history and strong dedication to human culture and appreciation of nature. Known also for its cosy cafes and gothic style landscapes for filming several feature films such as the Harry Potter series, Edinburgh is a green city that hosts over 112 parks and a thriving university. I think that the most compelling fact about Edinburgh is that it's value of loyalty in animals. I found out about the story of the dog Greyfriars Bobby during a walking tour of Edinburgh, which I found very intriguing. I found it intriguing that a city would dedicate a statue to a dog; this goes to show that stories are paramount in society and that people recognize the importance of dedication. Loyalty should never be taken for granted in anyone, let alone in a dog.

While touring the city, I noticed a similar run happening that strikingly resembled my undergraduate’s university’s event Storm the Wall in which runners would try to jump over a tall wall at the end of the race. I think that in every place we travel to, we to try to look for a sense of the familiar to give us a sense of security, and when finally we settle down in a place, it is that place that has a distinctively awkward combination of the familiar and the unknown that attracts us. I guess for me that brought back familiar memories of my undergraduate years, which I miss dearly. Spending every day at home has made me think of everything I’ve taken for granted in life, including the incredible places I’ve explored and the history and culture of those places. I remember the famous Elephant Cafe which was the place JK Rowling wrote her first novels as it was one of my favourite series growing up ; its interesting to know that JK Rowling wrote one of her novels while in this particular cafe. I used to imagine that famous people all started their careers with an abundance of resources, however it is very humbling to be able to connect with someone’s story and put yourselves in their shoes.

Top Places to Go

1. Arthurs Seat

Located in Holyrood Park on an ancient volcano sitting over 200m , one can see the medieval remains of several Scottish statues and views of the the Edinburgh skyline. There are many trails and walking routes available there, and when I was there, there was a race going on surrounding the trails of Arthur’s Seat. It is fairly nice place to jog and go for leisurely walk to explore the city and the ascent to the top is fairly moderate. In addition,the surrounding landscape is full of hills consisting of various types of florals and geology.

2. Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and hosts the Scottish Parliament buildings with various architecture designs housing art collections and sustainable design structures. I remember the modern and contemporary design of the interactive elements in the new design of the building and thinking that it was a such a great minimalistic approach to structure. Originally, the intention of the design was supposed to be using the land as inspiration which I believe certainly worked for a city that inspired to integrate nature into its design.

3. Harry Potter Cafe(Elephant House)

The beginning of Harry Potter began in Edinburgh when author JK Rowling got inspiration from it’s gothic architecture and it’s graveyards. It had been known that when JK Rowling first started her career, she used the Elephant House for creativity and inspiration at time of her life when she had few resources. Today the Cafe is inspiration for Instagrammers and novelists alike to grab inspiration in a time of desperation ; even though we may not all end up rich and famous like JK Rowling, it goes to show that one’s past does not determine their future.

4.Edinburgh Castle

Once a housing place for Scottish Royals, today it is a museum that attracts millions of visitors that seek to find inspiration in the inhabitants, from prisoners of war to military personnel. One of the oldest fortresses in Europe, Edinburgh Cast sits on a 700 million year extinct volcano and has a rich history with tales from the fortress and military garrison alike.

5. University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is ranked as one of the top 20 universities in the world for its work in championing and influencing scholars and thinkers since the Scottish Enlightenment. With well known accomplishments in the arts, sciences and physical sciences, the university has continued to attract talent from around the world and is popular attraction in the city of Edinburgh, hosting gothic-style architecture buildings that are interesting to walk around and explore.

Hidden Treasures

1. The Walking Tour- Greyfriars Bobby

Edinburgh is not a large town to walk around in and taking a walking tour increases your knowledge of the local history in the region. Of the most important stories that Edinburgh is defined by is that of the Skye Terrier dog Greyfriars Bobby, who stood by his owner’s grave for 14 years after his owner’s death. Because of his loyalty and dedication, he was rewarded a statue and his legacy remains in films and books. I remember touring the graveyard and taking a picture of the gravestone that Bobby was put on.

If you want to learn more about the story Greyfriars Bobby, there are many stories available including this one:

2. The Royal Mile and Victoria Street

The Old Town of Edinburgh is a must see and the Royal Mile stretch is a colourful mixture of old and new Scotland that contains both modern and boutique stores with cobbled streets and colourful architecture. The streets align with attractions such as The Real Mary King’s Close and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, along with historical sites including St Giles' Cathedral and some of the cities most exciting restaurants and bars.

Chelsea Reviews: 4.5/5

Edinburgh has always been remembered in my memories as a city that has a unique older charm with it’s gothic buildings and cathedrals. But it also inspires me by the modern architecture of the Scottish Parliament and the mixture of modern and older style boutique shops on the Royal Mile. From the stories of knights on Edinburgh castle to the loyal dog who stood by his owner to author JK Rowling’s own life story, I believe that a city is always constructed by it’s stories and the way those stories shape over time. When I was on exchange, I would try to buy a souvenir from each place to remember where I went so that the next time I go, I would be able to visit and truly understand the places that a make a city where it is today. But later on, I realize that only by combining my experiences with artifacts and books, I would be able to truly understand a city. Visit Edinburgh for not only the Instagram worth Harry Potter Cafe and Arthur’s seat, but for the rich history of its past that is undeniably makes the city alive today.

My go-to book for understanding Edinburgh.

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