Calton Hill Observatory, Edinburgh

Calton Hill Observatory, Edinburgh (must see)

Sadly the Calton Hill Observatory was closed to the public in 2009 after it was considered unsafe due to vandalism and theft of the roofing materials, but it is worth climbing the hill anyway to see this remarkable building.

The idea of putting an observatory on the hill arose at the end of the 16th century when Thomas Short inherited a 12ft reflecting telescope designed by his brother. The building was designed by James Craig and funds were donated by the University of Edinburgh, on the understanding that the observatory would be used by students. After the Gothic tower on the southwest corner of the site was completed, the money ran out and the land reverted to the city in 1807.

In 1812 the city council donated the land to the Edinburgh Astronomical Institute and the central building, which resembles a Greek temple, was erected in 1818, designed by William Henry Playfair. A 6-inch refractor telescope was installed in the central dome and a 6.4-inch transit telescope was housed in the eastern wing.

The building became the Royal Observatory in 1822, but due to lack of funding, it was given back to the government in 1847. In 1888 the site of the Royal Observatory was moved to Blackford Hill and the Calton Hill Observatory was used by the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh for many years before it was abandoned and left vacant.

During its lifetime the site’s main purpose was to measure time. Astronomers used the transit of certain stars through the Meridian to keep the Observatory’s clock accurate for navigation purposes. For many years all ships docking in the port brought their chronometers here to be adjusted.

Why You Should Visit:
Offers excellent views not only of the bridge and the Kingdom of Fife but also of Arthur's Seat.
There are oodles of grass for people to picnic, watch sunsets and absorb the city from up high.
Right on top is the Collective Gallery if you're interested in contemporary art.

Tip:
While a visit is free of charge and open to all, best to bring some cash in case you want to pay the £5 fee to climb the lighthouse.

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Edinburgh, Scotland within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Calton Hill Observatory on Map

Sight Name: Calton Hill Observatory
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: New Town Walking Tour   City Orientation Walk  

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Creating your own self-guided walk in Edinburgh is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Comfortably yet tightly packed on the hilly terrain, Edinburgh – the Scottish capital – is a picturesque city much popular with tourists, in large part, due to its unique architecture comprising medieval (Old Town) and elegant Georgian (New Town) buildings. The cityscape is dominated by Edinburgh Castle, once the seat of the Scottish royals and now home to the country's crown jewels. To...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Old and New Town Best Pubs

Old and New Town Best Pubs

Edinburgh is known for its sheer number of pubs, old and new, that offer various events, and provide the best drinks and food to their visitors. Many of them have live music performances that attract both locals and tourists, and although most traditional pubs are laid back and offer a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, some do have dance floors and double as nightclubs. Take this self-guided tour to...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Religious Sites Walking Tour

Religious Sites Walking Tour

Edinburgh is an enchanting city and home to numerous places of worship. The city is open to all religions and features magnificent Presbyterian and Catholic churches, the main two religions in Scotland; as well as Jewish synagogues and Islamic mosques, and even Buddhist centers. Check out this tour and visit some of Edinburgh’s beautiful religious sites.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

While in Edinburgh, discover the popular avenues, boulevards and streets that lead to its most famous squares. While exploring these streets, you can find a copious amount of historic and religious edifices, fashion boutiques, classy restaurants, famous market areas, and other sites. Check out the most popular Edinburgh squares and streets in the following self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Kids Entertainment Tour

Kids Entertainment Tour

Edinburgh is a city with a thousand and one things for children to enjoy. There are many sources of amusement for children of all ages, from tots to teens, such as playgrounds, toy stores, children's museums, sweet-shops, and wonderful ice cream stores to keep them happy. Take this tour and discover the best kids entertainment venues in Edinburgh!

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 km
Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

The Royal Mile is not in fact a street, but the name given to a succession of streets forming a thoroughfare at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. The thoroughfare is about a mile long and runs between the famed Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. The Mile is home to the Courts, St. Giles Cathedral, the City Chambers, John Knox's house, and also numerous shops and restaurants. Take...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 km

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