Why is Edinburgh The Capital Of Scotland?

Why is Edinburgh The Capital Of Scotland?
Why is Edinburgh The Capital Of Scotland?


If you are thinking of a trip to Scotland or are just interested in learning more about the country, it’s important to know about the capital. Scotland is a beautiful and proud nation, and understanding a little about its capital is a great way to learn more about it!

Scotland’s capital city is called Edinburgh. Many different dates are given for when it became the capital, and it was preceded by Scone, which is located in Perth and Kinross. Edinburgh is a thriving and beautiful city, and attracts many tourists every year. It was rated as the best city in the world by Time Out Magazine in 2022.

We’re going to find out more about how Edinburgh became the capital of Scotland, and some of the history of the place. We’ll also look at some of the must-see attractions you should visit if you’re going to be in the city!

Where Is The Capital Of Scotland Located?

Where Is the Capital of Scotland Located?
Where Is the Capital of Scotland Located?

Edinburgh is found near the east coast of Scotland, about 90 miles north of the border with England. It is east of Glasgow, and surrounded by smaller towns, such as Livingston. It is tucked into the landmass, on an inlet of the sea, and is very firmly in the south of Scotland, a long way from the northern tip.

It has a cool but temperate climate, and can be surprisingly mild – although being so close to the sea means that the temperatures can fluctuate wildly. It is renowned for being windy, and often gets warm weather blowing in from the North Atlantic Current.

Some people say that the name Edinburgh came from the old English for Edwin’s Fort (as “burgh” means fortress, and King Edwin may have taken refuge there. However, it is thought that the name predates King Edwin, so this theory is disputed.

You may also hear Scotland referred to as Auld Reekie, which means “smoky.” This is because of the pollution from wood and coal fires. Some people call it “Auld Greekie,” or the Athens of the North. It is a highly cultural city and has an enormous amount of history. It is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Brief History Of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle during summer, Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle during summer, Scotland.

It is very likely that Edinburgh began as a fort. Castle Rock is a highly defensible position, and in the 7th century, it was taken and held by the English. It’s not clear exactly when the fort was built – it was in existence from the earliest records.

In the 10th century, it passed back into the control of the Scots, and in the 11th century, a castle was built there (on Castle Rock) and a town was formed. This town grew steadily, and by the 12th century, Edinburgh became a recognizable settlement with many inhabitants.

Edinburgh became famous for making wool, and in 1329, it was given a charter to signify its importance. In 1385, the English burned the Town Hall and St Giles Kirk, but Edinburgh continued to grow and flourish despite constant conflict between the English and the Scots.

Despite many challenges, Edinburgh continued to grow. Ongoing challenges continued, but Edinburgh remained prominent, with many literary figures emerging from it. Zoos, theaters, monuments, and more were created in this city.

When Did Edinburgh Become The Capital Of Scotland?

Edinburgh skyline as seen from Calton Hill, Scotland
Edinburgh skyline as seen from Calton Hill, Scotland

There is some debate about when Edinburgh became Scotland’s capital, but it was certainly before the 1500s. Some people date it as around 1450, whereas others suggest it was even earlier, at around 1437.

Edinburgh has been important in Scotland since prehistory, but it wasn’t always the capital. Scone, which is some way north of Edinburgh but is still on the east coast, was the capital. In the 9th century, it was the seat of the monarchy, and the parliament was formed there in 1235. 

Some people say that the capital was moved after the assassination of King James 1st of Scotland in 1437. However, this has not been confirmed.

Why is Edinburgh The Capital Of Scotland?

There is no clear reason why Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. If the capital was indeed moved after the assassination of King James 1st, it may have been because it offered a highly defensible position.

It may also be because of its proximity to the border with England. Given the ongoing conflict and relationship between Scotland and England, and the oversight of English Kings at times, it’s not surprising that a city close to the border was chosen.

It’s likely that Edinburgh’s resilience and wealth are also partially responsible for it being the capital.

Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh

If you’re going to be in Edinburgh, the first place you should go is Edinburgh Castle, which stands on Castle Rock. It’s filled with Scottish artifacts, including the Honours of Scotland, which are the oldest crown jewels in the United Kingdom.

You might also want to check out the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh, which is thought to be the second oldest of its kind in the UK. It has over 13,000 different kinds of plants, and there’s a spectacular Christmas lights display. 

The St. Giles Cathedral is also very beautiful and worth visiting. It’s called the High Kirk of Edinburgh by some, and it was built in the 1300s. It has an extraordinary central tower and is a very popular spot for taking selfies.

Edinburgh Zoo is also an excellent spot to visit, especially if you’ve got kids along with you. It’s the only UK zoo that has pandas and koala bears, and it’s got lots of other animals to see. They were also the first to successfully breed penguins, and there’s a gift shop, plus food outlets. That makes this a perfect day out for anyone visiting Edinburgh.


The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, and it has been for centuries. Before that, Scone was the capital, but sometime after the death of King James 1st of Scotland, it was moved to Edinburgh. This is a thriving city with an extraordinary wealth of history and lots of attractions. Although it’s smaller than Glasgow nowadays, there’s no doubt that Edinburgh has a lot to offer.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!