We visited Calton Hill on Wednesday, July 2nd. It was quite a walk from the Edinburgh Castle to Calton Hill, but definitely Worth it. History of Calton Hill: (from edinburghguide.com)
Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh's main hills, set right in the city centre. It is unmistakable with its Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline.
The acropolis is in fact an unfinished monument - originally called the "National Monument". Initiated in 1816, a year after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, it was meant to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, as a memorial to those who had died in the Napoleonic Wars.
Building began in 1822, but funds ran dry and celebrated Edinburgh architect William Playfair only got to see a facade of his building completed. It was dubbed "Edinburgh's shame" at the time (and some still say a reflection of the Edinburgh temperament - make your own conclusions), but it's now a popular landmark and it's a lot of fun crawling up and down its giant steps. Plans since to complete the building never really get much support.
The top of Calton hill is an excellent and usually quiet place to come on any day, with its grassy slopes and panoramic views of the city, including down the length of Princes street (the main shopping thoroughfare) and Edinburgh castle. There is a good view North of the ruddy-coloured cliffs of Salisbury Crags and the undulating slopes of Holyrood Park.
Calton Hill is easily accessed. It takes about five minutes to get to the top of the hill from a steepish staircase at Waterloo Place, or you can drive up and park. There is a path right round the edge of the hill and there is an jumble of historic buildings and structures on top including, for star gazers, an observatory. In fact, there are two observatories on Calton Hill: the Old Observatory, designed by New Town architect James Craig in 1792; and the City Observatory, built in 1818, which has exhibitions and viewings of the night sky.
In spite of its anachronistic military monuments (there's also a Nelson's tower commemorating his naval victoy at Trafalgar in 1805), Calton Hill is still very much revered as a common ground to many Edinburghers. Attempts, in recent years, to create a theme park and railway up the hill have met with a chorus of protest.