Experience the Old Town and New Town at Parliament House
The historic city centre of Edinburgh is split into two distinct parts, the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town. Together they make up a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we are going to take a look at both areas in more detail and some of the historic attractions you can see during a visit.
Interestingly, Parliament House Hotel is rather unique, in that it combines architectural styles from both the Old Town and New Town. Our building is made up of several townhouses, connected together. Numbers 9 to 13 were built in the 1760s, in the tenement style of the Old Town. While number 15 was built in 1908, in the classical style of the New Town. Which makes this a fascinating, quirky place to stay, full of history. Book a room today and explore the history of Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town with us …
The Old Town
The Old Town, as you might have guessed, is the oldest part of Edinburgh. Centred around a street one Scots-mile in length, with royal buildings at either end – Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Hence its name, the Royal Mile. The oldest surviving structure in the Old Town is St Margaret’s Chapel, a tiny church at Edinburgh Castle, which dates from around 1130. The area also encompasses the Grassmarket, Cowgate and West Port.
In medieval times, the town was contained inside city walls, which meant it could only expand upwards, not outwards. So it would have been a dark and over-crowded place to live, with tall tenement buildings and narrow, winding streets. Today, the buildings are not quite as tall as they once were, but the winding streets and many early buildings and landmarks remain. Walking these ancient cobbled streets really does feel like stepping back in time!
For those interested in history, the Old Town is a treasure trove of popular attractions and hidden gems. Here are some our favourite historic attractions in the Old Town, where you can learn more about this fascinating area:
- Edinburgh Castle
- Holyrood Palace & Abbey
- St Giles Cathedral
- The Real Mary King’s Close
- The Writer’s Museum
- Gladstone’s Land
- Museum of Edinburgh
- People’s Story Museum
- John Knox House
The New Town
Although it’s called the New Town, it’s not so new anymore. This part of town was built in stages during the 18th and 19th centuries. The area is noticeably different to the Old Town. The streets are straight and wide. The Georgian architecture is very grand, with buildings built in a neo-classical in style, inspired by ancient Greece. In fact, this gave Edinburgh its nick-name, “The Athens of the north”.
The area sits north of the Old Town. Princes Street is the principle street, which lies parallel to the Royal Mile. In between is the beautiful public park, Princes Street Gardens. Other prominent streets in the New Town include George Street, Queen Street, St Andrew Square and Charlotte Square. Also, neighbouring Calton Hill is home to some monuments built in the 18th and 19th centuries, in a similar style.
The New Town is filled with statues and impressive landmarks, and is an enchanting area to explore. Here are just some our favourite historic attractions in and around the New Town, where you can discover more:
- Georgian House
- National Gallery of Scotland
- Scottish National Portrait Gallery
- Scott Monument
- Ross Fountain
- National Monument
- Nelson Monument
So, stay at Parliament House and explore the best of the Old Town and New Town. Not only are we within walking distance of both areas, but our hotel building is the perfect marriage of both architectural styles. Take a look at our special offers and book your stay today!