Scotland has seven cities. Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness climb Scotland’s eastern shores. Glasgow, to the west, is a gateway to some of the country’s wild and beautiful western islands, including flights to the Isle of Barra, where you land on the beach.
Aberdeen. Aberdeen has sometimes been called the granite city after the local rock which has been used for so many of the city’s buildings. Historically fishing has been a key industry for Aberdeen; other industries that thrived in the past include textiles and whaling. In modern times Aberdeen is known as a centre for the North Sea Oil industry. In the nineteenth century cattle were carefully bred to produce the world renowned Aberdeen Angus beef. Singer Annie Lennox was born in Aberdeen.
Dundee. Dundee first had a port nearly 10,000 years ago. The city also, at one time, had a castle. Dundee suffered epidemics including plague in the sixteenth century and cholera in the nineteenth century – both flourished in an overcrowded city which did not have the water and sewerage systems needed to support the population. Dundee Cake and Dundee Marmalade are rich in fruit and taste.
Edinburgh. Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, hosts both a castle and a palace – the latter the Queen’s official Scottish residence. Between the two you can walk the Royal Mile, passing (and perhaps stopping at) such wonders as St Giles’ Cathedral, the Museum of Childhood, John Knox’s house and the Scottish Parliament. Iain Rankin’s excellent Inspector Rebus crime novels uncover some of Edinburgh’s darker secrets.
Glasgow. Some have said that Glasgow is Scotland’s true capital. It is a city both ancient and modern. The Roman Antonine Wall passes through the outskirts of Glasgow. The Cathedral stands on the ground where the city’s patron saint St Mungo established his church. The city is one of a handful in Britain to have its own subway. Artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow.
Inverness. Inverness is Scotland’s northernmost city, a place where many tourists start their exploration of the Scottish Highlands. Inverness has an airport, a castle (now a courthouse), a cathedral and a river running through the town; it is also close to Loch Ness. Karen Gillan, the actress who plays Dr Who assistant Amy Pond, was born in Inverness.
Perth. Whilst deemed a city throughout known history, Perth lost the title in the 1990s. City status was re-established for Perth as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Perth has good transport links with the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. Sir Walter Scott wrote a story called The Fair Maid of Perth, the title character being daughter of a glove maker in the city.
Stirling. Stirling has sometimes been called the gateway to the Highlands. The strategic importance of Stirling’s location led to it being a battle ground for William Wallace and Robert the Bruce who believed that he who holds Stirling holds Scotland. Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in Stirling’s castle. Stirling’s history is visible as you walk the old parts of the city; Stirling’s modernity can be seen in the city’s university, shopping centre and culture.