The Hub is the home of the Edinburgh International Festival, and one of the city's most visible landmarks; its tremendous Gothic spire is the highest point in central Edinburgh, towering over even the nearby castle.

Originally built as an Assembly Hall and offices for the Church of Scotland, from the outside the building has the appearance of an especially grandiose church. The rich architectural detailing and the spire were designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, author of 'The True Principles of Christian Architecture', though he is more famous for his work on the Houses of Parliament. The overall form of the building was the work of James Gillespie Graham, another leading light of the Gothic revival.

However, when the Festival moved in in 1999, much of the interior was radically redesigned, and the Hub now presents an interesting mix of stark, Gothic stonework and vivid primary colours, showcasing a collection of modern art and craft work. The juxtaposition is very characteristic of Edinburgh, and really, it probably shouldn't work; but oft-times it does, and this is one of those times.

The tremendously grand Main Hall was once the main debating chamber for the assembled Church of Scotland, and it shows; the room is dominated by a thronelike pulpit, from which a bishop might hold forth to audience of more than five hundred. This room now holds concerts, workshops, corporate gatherings and so on, and its walls are patterned with concentric triangles in The Hub's characteristic primary-colour palette.

Next to the Main Hall is the Dunard Library, which is strangely devoid of books - instead it houses a bar and enough space for up to 100 people to stand up in and mill around. This room is dominated by great stained-glass windows, and surprisingly green walls. Above these is the Glass Room, a smaller meeting room with quite lovely views across Edinburgh, through floor-to-ceiling windows.

On the ground floor is Cafe Hub, which serves very nice food and generally has a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere even during the hustle of the Festival. Although their range of vegan options is pretty limited, they are accommodating if you ask, and the general vegetarian range is decent enough.

Right on the top floor, which is closed to the public, are the offices of the Edinburgh International Festival. Before the Festival moved into the building, it was in a state of serious disrepair. Besides patching it up, the opportunity was taken to put in this new floor, which meant propping up the roof with hefty metal beams to replace the mighty wooden struts which had passed through the space where the floor would be.

At the very top of everything is Pugin's elaborate spire, shooting skyward, its peak visible for miles around.

External links:

Some other things called 'The Hub':

...yeah, it's a bit of a popular name these days, which is the main reason The Hub in Edinburgh often refers to itself as 'The Hub, Edinburgh's Festival Centre'.

I worked at The Hub when I wrote this, as Online Officer for the Edinburgh International Festival, but that doesn't mean this page necessarily reflects the views of the Festival or The Hub.