Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Athens of the North Revealed

Find out the hidden history of the New Town with a new trail leaflet and QR codes.

Sep 21, 2011

A new trail of the New Town is now available, explaining how Edinburgh became known as the’ Athens of the North’, highlighting its classical architecture and everyday life in the New Town 200 years ago.

The heritage trail links key locations from Calton Hill to the Dean Village, Charlotte Square and Stockbridge. The trail includes Greek Revival buildings such as the Dugald Stewart monument, the Burns Monument, the Royal Scottish Academy and National Galleries of Scotland. Combined with nearby attractions such as the Gallery of Modern Art, the Dean Gallery, the Botanical Gardens, and independent shops in places such as William Street, the New Town offers a unique experience for the visitor. Download the Athens of the North trail (PDF | 2MB)

EWH is also carrying out a pilot project using QR codes to tell the stories behind some of the New Town’s Georgian buildings. QR codes are a form of barcode which can be read by smart phones, and enable visitors to access information on-line quickly and easily.  The first codes have been installed in Thistle Street with the help of the traders’ association, and they reveal some surprising tales about its former inhabitants.

In 1803 Madame Tussaud exhibited her waxworks in Thistle Street, with highlights including life-sized models of the recently executed French Royal Family and an Egyptian mummy said to be 3299 years old. The dentist to the Prince Regent also lived in the street at one time, and in 1822 the royal coach horses were stabled there prior to the visit of King George IV. Other codes tell stories of everyday life in the Regency period, particularly the street’s role in providing fashions for Edinburgh’s middle-classes.

More QR codes will follow for Calton Hill, St John’s Church and other New Town locations. Once the pilot has been evaluated EWH will look at the potential of using QR codes throughout the World Heritage Site.

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