Edinburgh World Heritage - Parliament Square


Parliament Square

“The busiest and most populous nook of the ancient capital” Daniel Wilson, 1848

In the 1700’s Parliament Square was the hub of the Old Town. There were book sellers, watchmakers and goldsmiths shops, merchants meeting to do business at the Mercat Cross, and lawyers heading for the courts. In 1750 an English tourist remarked, “Here I stand at what is called the cross of Edinburgh, and can, in a few minutes, take 50 men of genius and learning by the hand”.

Statue of King Charles II

This is one of the earliest lead statues in Britain, and dates from around 1685. Nothing like it had been seen in the city before, and some believed it represented “…the pale horse in the Revelation, and he that sate theiron was Death.”

Look out for...

The heart shape and brass markers in the pavement show the site of the notorious town prison, the Tolbooth.


Download the Heritage Trail (PDF | 2.1MB)


Charles McKean, Professor of Architectural History at Dundee University, reveals the hidden history of Parliament Square and its past inhabitants.

Download Podcast (mp3 | 3.4MB)


Listen to city guides and interviews, browse the image galleries and watch the stunning time lapse videos.


Visit our learning site to download lesson plan, browse resources and find out about our schools programme.


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