Official Guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh's 101 Objects - The New Town

Edinburgh's 101 Objects, a curated list of objects located around Edinburgh, brings you the opportunity to learn more about Scotland's capital and its fascinating history - right where it happened. Discover things you never knew and get to know the city like never before by visiting each one.

*Please note - this unique campaign has now ended, however the majority of objects are still available to see around the city so please continue to browse and enjoy our Edinburgh's 101 Objects itineraries. The information was correct as of 30/07/2019.

Below you'll find an itinerary taking your around Edinburgh's Georgian New Town, taking you from the breathtaking splendour of views across the entire city to the 250 year old origins of the New Town itself. With so much variation in the objects however, don't be afraid to go off-piste and make sure you find your favourites, and don't forget to use and follow #Edinburgh101 on social media.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill Panorama

Starting your journy off on Calton Hill means you'll begin by taking in Edinburgh's beautiful skyline, with views across both the New Town and Old Town, with Edinburgh Castle dominating the horizon. Turn around, and you can see over to Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park.

While looking over to Holyrood and the Scottish Parliament building, begin your journey with Object 87 - the Parliament cairn. Erected in honour of the vigil that sat on Calton Hill for over five years, awaiting the return of a Scottish parliament, the cairn is made of stones from around Scotland and beyond.

National Monument (1)

Standing on the summit of Calton Hill, unmissable and imposingly unfinished, is Object 81 - the National Monument of Scotland. Intended as a crowning jewel cementing Edinburgh's status as the Athens of the North, and based on the Parthenon, it has stood over the city like a ruined Greek temple for almost 200 years.

Nearby you'll also find the Nelson monument - atop which sits Object 52, the Edinburgh Time Ball. A key method for ships coming and going from the docks at Leith, the ball is still dropped every day at exactly 1pm, as a visual signal complementing the famous 1 O'Clock Gun fire from Edinburgh Castle.

St Andrew Square & The New Town

New Town Plans 600X250

Head down from Calton Hill, and walking back towards the New Town, it's now time to stop into the first pub on this route, to see Object 66, the Inventors Tiles. The impressive tiles, just one feature of the Café Royal's beautiful interior, date back to 1886 when Edinburgh hosted a grand World Expo. It's not strictly necessary to buy a drink while you admire the artistry, but it's hardly discouraged...

Next it's time to make your way around the small, almost hidden alleyway which leads you to St Andrew Square and the grandeur of Dundas House - a key building in the history of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Not only is it still a functioning bank branch, but its spectacular domed roof is Object 7 - which needs to be seen in person to fully appreciated.

Dundas House 600X250

Exiting Dundas House, cross over St Andrew Square and head onto George Street. But as you do, make sure you look left down South St David Street for a view of Object 35 - the Scott Monument. If you have the time, it's well worth a closer look and a climb to get another unique and spectacular view across the city.

Venturing onto George Street will bring you to Object 48, the statue of Professor James Clerk Maxwell who, alongside Einstein and Newton, is one of the most influential physicists of all time. In spite o fbeing nickanmed 'Dafty' as a child, Maxwell went on to make many discoveries that are foundational to today's global wireless communications networks.

Moving further along George Street, make a stop at the Assembly Rooms for a look at Object 9, two maps made of the New Town. 2017 is a significant year in Edinburgh's history, being 250 years since the New Town plan was adopted in 1767.

Together, the maps show the New Town before and after the construction of the Assembly Rooms, and reflect a number of other alterations made throughout its construction.

Continuing down to 84 George Street, look up to your left when you reach the Northern Lighthouse Board to see Object 47. Although one of Scotland's most celebrated authors, Robert Louis Stevenson's family were traditionally in the business of building and maintaining the country's lighthouses. the model is emblematic of the Stevenson family's influence and innovation in lighthouse design and technology. 

Rose Street

It's time for some poetry next. Continue down George Street, take a left onto Castle Street, and then a right onto Rose Street for a read of Object 42 - a steel-cut illustration by Astrid Jaekel of George MacKay Brown’s poem Beachcomber that adorns a row of windows on the street's North side.

Continuing onto Charlotte Square, making your way to number 6 (which also happens to be the Scottish First Minister's residence) and admire the palatial frontage, which is Object 10, and a prime example of Robert Adam's original vision for the New Town.

10 Objects Charlotte Palatial Frontage

Next door at number 7 is the Georgian House, home to Object 60 - a lockable tea table to stop tea-thievery, and Object 61, a Georgian kitchen innovation. Both are examples - along with the house itself - of life in Edinburgh's New Town over 200 years ago, so take your time to explore and get a feel for Georgian Edinburgh's splendour.

It's now time to reward yourself with a drink at the home of Object 100, the "Oxford" Bar. A real pub, but a frequent haunt of Ian Rankin's fictional Inspector John Rebus, and the perfect spot to rest up after your wander through Edinburgh's New Town and hundreds of years of history.

Bonus Stops

Not quite done? Up for a bit of a longer walk? There are a few more objects in the area that are well worth a visit if you don't mind taking a slightly longer route on your journey into Edinburgh's past...

Make the Scottish National Portrait Gallery part of your journey and you'll see the beauty of Object 21, stunning late 1890s decorative murals by artist William Hole. A very Victorian celebration of historic giants of science, literature and the Scottish monarchy, the frieze is a shining procession of a who's who of Scottish history.

National Galleries RSA Exterior

Worth a visit in its own right, the Scottish National Gallery is home to Object 19 - Sir Henry Raeburn's famous and iconic painting of the Revd Dr Robert Walker - otherwise known as the Skating Minister. Take a detour from your journey down George Street when you reach Hanover Street to pop into the gallery, located at the bottom of the Mound by Princes Street Gardens.

The Gardens are also home to Object 86 - the statue of Wojtek, a bear adopted by Polish soldiers and given a rank and commission in the army, who lived out his days in Edinburgh Zoo (also home to Object 57 and Object 88 - two other famous animals Edinburgh is home to, and worth the even lengthier detour!).

Make your own trip through Edinburgh's history with the full list of objects at Edinburgh.org/101 - and use and follow the hashtag #Edinburgh101 to keep up with the latest news.

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