t St Stephen St, Stockbridge.
Edinburgh’s uniquely intact medieval heritage makes it one of the world’s most fascinating cities. The mighty Edinburgh Castle dominates the city from Castle Rock, a clifftop crag which has been occupied since the Bronze Age thanks to its strategic position overlooking the Firth of Forth. Below it the Royal Mile slopes through the Old Town to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, home of monarchs since the 15th century. However, it was not until the reign of James IV (1488–1513) that the city of Edinburgh gained the status of Scotland’s capital in 1498.
Over the years, overcrowding made Edinburgh’s Old Town a dirty and difficult place to live, and sickness and disease was rife. In 1645, the city was ravaged by the bubonic plague, killing almost half the population. In an attempt to prevent further infection, residents of vaults and closes were bricked into their homes and left to die, and new buildings were erected above this forgotten city. The construction of a Georgian New Town to the north in the late 1700s gave the wealthy an escape route, and the area is still viewed today as a world-class example of Georgian urban architecture, with its elegant façades and broad streets.