View of Edinburgh from Calton Hill at sunset

Calton Hill

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Calton Hill, Edinburgh, EH1 3BJ

Calton Hill is an iconic hill in Edinburgh. It is a short and relatively easy walk to the top for beautiful panoramic views of the city. The entrance for the path to walk up Calton Hill is on Regents Road, to the east of Princes Street. The hill itself is quite a landmark, with its collection of iconic monuments filling the skyline.

Calton Hill Monuments

The National Monument

It was meant to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, in honour of those who died in the Napoleonic Wars. They began construction on the National Monument in 1826, but then ran out of funds three years later. So, today it stands upon Calton Hill unfinished, with just twelve columns, dubbed “Edinburgh’s shame”.

The Nelson Monument

The Nelson Monument is a tower on Calton Hill designed and built from 1806 to 1816 to commemorate Admiral Nelson’s victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar. In 1852 they added a Time Ball to the monument as a time signal for ships, which still drops at 1 pm six days a week. On the anniversary of the battle 21st October each year, Trafalgar Day, flags fly from the monument.

City Observatory

This is an astronomical building, known as the City Observatory or Old Observatory. Its design, by William Playfair in 1818, was based on a Greek temple. It is now open to the public as an exhibition venue.

Other Points of Interest

Calton Hill is also home to the Dugald Stewart Monument, old Royal High School, the Robert Burns Monument and the Political Martyrs’ Monument.

Festivals and Events

Calton Hill is the venue for many events throughout the year, including the annual Beltane Fire Festival in April. It is also a great place to view the fireworks at the end of Edinburgh International Festival in August/September and during the Hogmanay celebrations at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day.