Sunday, July 8, 2012

Edinburgh's Amazing Scott Monument


The city of Edinburgh in Scotland is rife with stunning feats of architecture: castles, cathedrals, bridges, and even a quasi-Greek forum a top Calton Hill. But one of the most jaw-dropping structures in the city is the magnificent Scott Monument. Standing at just over 200 feet tall on Princes Street, this Gothic spire sticks out due to its height, detail, and unique style. It is unlike anything else in Edinburgh.

The Scott Monument on Princes Street, Edinburgh

Our hotel, the Royal British Hotel (which had an amazing location and decent price by the way) was only a block from the Scott Monument, so it was a quick and happy jaunt away. I was excited to not just circle the monument and take a million photographs, but also to walk up to the top by climbing all 287 stairs.

The sweeping architecture, complete with flying buttresses and spires

It isn't free to climb to the top, but it is certainly worth the £3.00 to do so. Not only do you get to go to the tippy-top, but you also get a little certificate of proof of your hard-work and exercise! There are 287 stairs, and four different levels, each one getting smaller and narrower as you get higher. The stairs are a tight, claustrophobic, nasty business, but the handrail is sturdy and if you pace yourself, the journey isn't so bad. I felt skinnier once I got to the top!

Outside the base of the Scott Monument, trying to give some perspective on the size of it

As you reach each level, you have the opportunity to check out the detail of the Scott Monument more closely. This structure was built between 1840 and 1844, and designed by George Meikle Kemp (who sadly drowned just a few short months before he saw the completion of his precious project) in honor of Sir Walter Scott, a famous writer and poet. Everyone loved the spire, except Charles Dickens apparently, who said it looked like the top of a Gothic church had broken off and been stuck in the ground.

Detail of the carvings around the exterior of the Monument

The monument is chalk-full of carvings of gargoyles, flowers, curlicues, and much more. It is beautiful to see up close, and that can only be done by going up those stairs!

Oh, those stairs! Small, narrow, and endless - but worth the climb!

Finally at the top, I bit back my vertigo and took a shot directly over the side. Joey had to go around to the other side: he couldn't watch me lean over the edge to take the picture! (Don't worry, I did it safely! I am terrified of heights, so there's no way I'd lean over that far!)

Look down, wayyyyy down!

What a monument! If you are hiking down Princes Street, Edinburgh, do make sure you climb the Scott Monument!

The view of Edinburgh Castle from the top of the Scott Monument

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