City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

UNESCO World Heritage Site


Charlotte Square in May

Edinburgh Old Town and New Town were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. Edinburgh shares
the distinction with New Lanark, Liverpool (Maritime Mercantile Centre)
and Bath, among others.

The Edinburgh World Heritage Site covers an area of about 1.76 square miles, and was inscribed because of the unique contrast and quality of architecture between the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town.

There are around 4,600 buildings with the World Heritage Site and about 75% of these are listed for their special architectural and historic interest.

Over the last 30 years Edinburgh World Heritage and its predecessors (the New Town Conservation Committee and the Old Town Renewal Trust) have invested over £32 million on repairs to historic buildings in the city centre.

The medieval Old Town has retained its distinctive ‘fish bone' pattern of narrow closes and wynds. It contains many sixteenth and seventeenth century mansions and merchants' houses, such as the six storey tenement Gladstone's Land, and important early public buildings such as St Giles' Cathedral and the Canongate Tolbooth.

The Georgian New Town has a high concentration of world-class neo-classical buildings, is consistent in its design to an unrivalled degree, and still survives virtually intact.

The selection criteria which Edinburgh fulfilled was twofold:

"to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of
time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in
architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape
design"

and

"to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or
technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant
stage(s) in human history"

Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) is the official champion of the
city's World Heritage Site. EWH's role is to monitor, enhance and
promote Edinburgh's unique historic values. EWH is
funded by its two sponsors - the City of Edinburgh Council and Historic
Scotland. Its work is prioritised through the Outcomes Agreement,
signed with the sponsors in October 2007.

Edinburgh is listed as ref. 728 on the World Heritage Site.