Edinburgh, Scotland, the capital city of the country and an independent council region. The region includes the industrial suburbs of Colinton, Liberton, and Portobello, and the port of Leith. Edinburgh is on the south side of the Firth of Forth, and 42 miles (68 km) east of Glasgow. The city is on a series of ridges, with Castle Rock (445 feet [136 m] above sea level) at the western end and Calton Hill at the eastern.
Edinburgh has been called the “Athens of the North.” It is primarily a cultural, academic, and administrative center, and is also of historical, architectural, and artistic importance. The city has printing plants but few large factories. Its suburbs produce machinery, machine tools, whiskey, paper, food products, and chemicals. Several airlines serve the city.
Edinburgh has many famous buildings and monuments. On Castle Rock is ancient Edinburgh Castle. James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) was born here to Mary, Queen of Scots. On King's Bastion, the castle's highest point, stands a huge cannon called Mons Meg, made in Mons, Belgium, in 1476. The castle is in the section known as Old Town, which has numerous parks and gardens and only one street wide enough to admit automobiles. A ravine separates Old Town from New Town. Princes Street runs through the ravine.
Holyrood Palace, east of Edinburgh Castle, is the ancient home of the Stuarts. It is now the home of the British monarch while in Scotland. Nearby are the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, founded in 1128. Its vaults contain the tombs of the Scottish kings David II, James II, and James V.
In Edinburgh are the Royal Scottish Academy, the National Gallery of Scotland, the Royal Scottish Museum, the Museum of Antiquities, the Scottish Naval and Military Museum, an observatory, the Sir Walter Scott Monument (200 feet [61 m] tall) and the Nelson Monument (102 feet [31 m]). The Edinburgh International Festival, a major festival of the arts, takes place each August. Edinburgh's zoo is one of Europe's largest.
The principal educational institution is the University of Edinburgh, chartered in 1583 by James VI. There are several libraries, including the Advocates' Library, one of nine libraries entitled to receive a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom. Notable church buildings include the 13th-century St. Giles Presbyterian Cathedral, the Norman Chapel of St. Margaret, and the Cathedral of St. Mary. John Knox, the Scottish Protestant reformer, preached in St. Giles.