Christmas in Edinburgh: 5 Architecturally Amazing Sights

It doesn’t quite seem possible, but it’s that time of year again: the countdown to Christmas has begun. Shortly the city will be transformed into a winter wonderland. Christmas lights on the Royal Mile will be switched on, and the infamous Market on Princes Street will open its gates to tourists and locals alike.
To help you make the best of your festive visit, here are five architecturally amazing sights not to be missed during Christmas in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Art Deco Architecture

It’s easy to imagine Edinburgh as just a medieval Old Town alongside a Georgian New Town. But our city was never one to stand still, especially during the inter-war period. Our burgh contains numerous hidden 20th century gems that should be admired. Last month we looked at the brutalist heritage of the 1960s. Today let’s jump a few decades earlier and discover the Art Deco Edinburgh of the 1920s and 30s.

The future of Edinburgh’s architecture

When walking through Edinburgh, it may seem like the city has been set in stone for centuries. But as William Morris wrote, “All continuity in history means is (…) perpetual changes”. Our city is constantly evolving and is currently building numerous exciting new projects, all enriching Edinburgh’s history. Here is a selection of the most promising upcoming designs.

Brutalist legacy in Edinburgh

Brutalism is an easy movement to hate on aesthetic grounds. Its bare concrete buildings can stand out in a uniform sandstone city like Edinburgh. The lack of decoration on its block-like structure has fallen out of fashion since the 1970s. Prince Charles even famously qualified a brutalist proposal as a “monstrous carbuncle”. But in order to fully appreciate and understand the style, it is important to understand the moral and historical implication of such movement. Edinburgh has a great legacy of brutalist architecture, offering us a wide range of examples, such as social housing blocks, university buildings or office constructions.


Standardisation was used as a tool against the threat of fire. However, this method was not completely successful in stopping fires in the old town. Disastrous fires in Edinburgh prompted large scale urban planning projects in the Old Town, which allowed for wider, cleaner, uniform streets.


In Part 2 of the series I look at how, after centuries of frequent and repetitive burnings, the city of
Edinburgh started to use its architecture to prevent and reduce fires. Control through laws and regulations was used as a means of prevention.

Edinburgh Old Town: City Shaped by Fire. Part 1

In this three-part series, I explore how the different forms of fire,
from the physical element, the threat of burning, and the control of this
fire, have all lead to the uniformity of architecture in the historic heart of Edinburgh.

To Replicate or to Readapt?

At the time of speculations on the replacement of the spire at Notre Dame de Paris, we take a look at how Edinburgh has dealt with restoration of its lost architecture.