National Monument, Edinburgh

National Monument, Edinburgh (must see)

The National Monument stands in unfinished splendour on Calton Hill and has been called a lot of names over the years, such as “Edinburgh’s Folly”, or “The Shame of Scotland”, but the idea behind building it was neither a folly nor a shame.

The idea to build a monument to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died in the Napoleonic Wars of 1803 to 1815, was a good one; the only problem was that when asked to put their hands in their pockets, a lot of people lost their initial enthusiasm for the venture.

The monument was designed in 1823 by William Henry Playfair and Charles Robert Cockerall, but they kept fiddling with it and changing it until producing a final draft in 1826. They modelled it on the Athenian Parthenon and from the outset it should have been obvious that they had set their sights too high.

Building started in 1826 and 12 columns were built, along with the foundations and the inscription, which turned out to be rather ironic: “A Memorial of the Past and Incentive to the Future Heroism of the Men of Scotland”.

Funds finally ran out completely in 1829 and the monument you can see today hasn’t been touched since. Several proposals have been put forward over the years to complete the monument, but these plans have come to nothing.
This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour in the iOS app "Edinburgh Map and Walks" on iTunes App Store or the Android app "Edinburgh Map and Walks" on Google Play. Please download the app 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).

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Sight Map

Sight Name: National Monument
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: New Town Walking Tour  

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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
Museums & Galleries, Old Town

Museums & Galleries, Old Town

Popular for its rich cultural heritage, Edinburgh attracts a large number of tourists towards its numerous history and science museums that tell the compelling story of Scotland. Edinburgh is also a city where many locals spend their free time visiting galleries and attending art events. You can find amazing collections of original artwork in the many exhibitions around town. Take this tour and see the most important museums and galleries in the Old Town of Edinburgh.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Cannongate Walking Tour

Cannongate Walking Tour

The Canongate district takes its name from the main street called the "Canongate" and forms the lower, eastern half of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's historic Old Town. It contains some other notable public buildings, including Huntly House (now the Museum of Edinburgh) and the historic Canongate Tolbooth (now housing the People's Story Museum), as well as the Canongate Kirk and the new Scottish Parliament building.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
New Town Walking Tour

New Town Walking Tour

The New Town is a central area of Edinburgh, considered to be a masterpiece of historic city planing, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy, but also to an upmarket range of independent eateries and restaurants, as well as some of the best pubs and bars you will find in Edinburgh. Take the following tour to discover the most popular sights the New Town has to offer.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 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
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

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