When one emerges from Waverley Station in the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, one has three distinct hills within view: the Castle Rock where its castle rests, Arthur's Seat to the east of the city, and to the northeast Calton Hill, with Scotland's 'National Monument' and the Nelson Memorial its most striking features from below. Visitors to this city are advised to head straight to the top of Calton Hill to enjoy the view of the surroundings (perhaps to see all of the seven hills the city is said to have been built on), and then circumnavigate the hill, where many more treasures for the eyes can be discovered.

With a very old domed observatory, the mock-parthenon style Monument and stone lighthouse styled Memorial dotting the top of the Hill, one could be forgiven for thinking this was the abandoned playground of yesteryear, but the Monument is the only 'abandoned' project. In addition, although people have lived on the hill for many centuries, most of the buildings on the hill were built or rebuilt in the early 19th century, with the Gothic Tower of the observatory and a few homes on the west side dating from before. Most notably, slums on the northwest side, Greenside, were all demolished in the mid 20th century and replaced with a giant car park for decades until a later development to a leisure and office centre.

Moving around the hill to the North, a former leper colony is now the neo-gothic towered parish church, marking one end of the Georgian terraces that line around the north and east side of the hill. Designed by William Playfair and built in the early to mid 18th century, the homes lining Royal, Carlton and Regent Terrace are a feast for the eyes. Behind these homes are tantalising glimpses of wooded private 'gardens' which cover almost half of the hill's area. Several of the buildings house or housed foreign consulates, with the US consulate near the west end of Regent Terrace one of the few remaining. (I've only been inside two of these townhouses on the Hill, with the consulate counting as one, and I recommend to American visitors to drop in to say hi: it's very much more inviting and friendly than the consulate in London).

Below Regent Terrace is Regent Road, which has a long thin park and bowling green and a substantial cemetery, Calton Cemetery (housing an impressive memorial to Robert Burns) at the east end. Two more impressive buildings built in the mid-18th century are on this road: the former Old Royal High School, now empty and waiting for a new use, and the stark and imposing Art Deco-influenced St. Andrew's House, one location for departments of the Scottish government and ironically sited upon the former city gaol, with the Governor's House next door repurposing part of the original buildings of the gaol. Another cemetery, Old Calton Cemetery is west of this, with certain distinguishing features of its own, not least being a 90 foot tall obelisk instigated by Joseph Hume (who's relation David's remains lie here as well) as a memorial to Political Martyrs.

Spinning off of the hill are steep roads, easing paths or winding stairs to many other delights of the city. One example: on the east side of St. Andrew's House are steps known as Jacob's Ladder which lead down all catty-corner far below the base of the hill, from which one can head to the Royal Mile in one direction, Holyrood Palace in another, the back entrance to Waverley in another (across the road from this is an excellent art gallery).

One night of the year the Hill becomes another world, serving as the location for the celebratory revelries of Beltane. For much of the rest of the year it is a place full of historical and architectural gems for anyone to discover.

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