The Views from Edinburgh’s Princes Street

No, it’s not Princess Street. And it’s not Prince’s Street. Edinburgh’s main shopping street was named after the two sons of King George III: George (who would later become George IV) and Frederick. In all of our travels around the world this street is the first major city thoroughfare we have encountered that has stores and businesses on one side of the street and a public park on the other. New Town Edinburgh, developed in the 1700s during the reign of George III, starts on the north side of Princes Street. For more than a mile there are only three structures on the south side of the street.  Consequently, the views from the street of the Old Town across the valley are fantastic and it has been said that anything that is worthwhile seeing in Edinburgh can be seen from Princes Street. Let’s see if that’s true!


The Balmoral Hotel, formerly the North British Hotel, at 1 Princes Street. JK Rowling completed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in January 2007 while staying in room 552.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

First of all, let’s look at the three exceptions to the no south-side construction rule. The luxurious Balmoral Hotel, formerly the North British Hotel and built by the railroad company who built the railroad between Old Town and New Town stands proudly on 1 Princes Street. Bridges on either side of the hotel lead over the Waverley Train Station to Old Town. And then down the block from the hotel there’s the Sir Walter Scott Monument, now undergoing repairs and standing perhaps a little less proudly. Just past the Scott Monument is an artificial hill called the Mound that links Princes Street to the Old Town and The Royal Mile. The Royal Scottish Academy is on the Princes Street side of the Mound. Behind RSA is the Scottish National Gallery. And that’s it for the south side. The street starts at Waterloo Place at the top of Leith Street hill and goes on for a little more than a mile with at one time a parade of  Georgian mansions on the north side of the street. Over the years the mansions turned into businesses and stores and Princes Street is now Edinburgh’s main shopping street.


The Wellington statue created by John Steell in 1852 stands outside the General Register House across the street from the Balmoral Hotel. It’s often called The Iron Duke in bronze by Steell.


The Sir Walter Scott Monument was completed in 1844. It stands at 200 feet six inches and is the largest monument in the world dedicated to a writer.


Sir Walter seems contented even though his monument is being repaired. The statue was created by John Steell from a single block of Carrara marble between 1840 and 1846.


Jenners has had a presence on Princes Street since 1838. This building is directly across from the Scott Monument and opened in 1895.


The Royal Scottish Academy undergoing repairs.


The Scottish National Gallery below the castle and the Ramsey Gardens mansions near the top of the Royal Mile.


The Bank of Scotland headquarters on the Mound behind the Scottish National Gallery.


Princes Street looking east. Those are the monuments on Calton Hill straight ahead, the Balmoral Hotel right center and the Scott Monument on the right. Most of Princes Street is restricted to buses, taxis and trams.


The south side of Princes Street between the Balmoral and the Scott Monument.


The Balmoral Hotel and East Princes Street Garden from the Mound near the Scottish National Gallery.


The back sides of buildings on the Royal Mile. The tower with the crown is St Giles Cathedral.


Old Town and the roof of Waverley Station from East Princes Street Garden.


The Royal Scots Grey Memorial statue in West Princes Street Garden below the castle.


Edinburgh Castle from west Princes Street.


Cherry trees along west Princes Street.

OK, I admit you can’t see some things from Princes Street: Picardy Place at the bottom of Leith Street hill, the palace of Holyrood House at the bottom of the Royal Mile, the Grassmarket on the other side of Castlehill and the front of the Royal Mile are four examples of places in Edinburgh that can’t be seen from the street but are still worth seeing.

But as you can see there are many different views from the street and the gardens and they are magnificent!


About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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4 Responses to The Views from Edinburgh’s Princes Street

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Enjoyed revisiting Edinburgh through your camera lens. Great pictures (and commentary!)

  2. Pingback: The Ten Best Paintings in the Scottish National Gallery | Crow Canyon Journal

  3. last time I was there I stayed at a hotel on the Waters of the Leith.

  4. Ps: I mean Water of Leith!

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