As Scotland’s historic capital, Edinburgh is a city renowned for its stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and charming cobblestone streets. While Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile may be the city’s most famous landmarks, there are countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered. In this article, we’ll guide you through ten of Edinburgh’s lesser-known sculptures and monuments that showcase the city’s artistic and historical treasures.
The Statue of Wojtek the Soldier Bear
In the heart of Princes Street Gardens, you’ll find a heartwarming monument dedicated to an unusual war hero. Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear, was adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II and became an integral part of their unit. The bronze statue, created by sculptor Alan Herriot, depicts Wojtek carrying ammunition boxes, a task he performed for his fellow soldiers. This remarkable story of friendship and loyalty between man and beast is beautifully captured in this touching tribute.
The Scottish-American Soldiers Monument
Located in the Old Calton Burial Ground, the Scottish-American Soldiers Monument honors the Scottish soldiers who fought in the American Civil War. The impressive granite obelisk features a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln and a freed slave, symbolizing the fight for emancipation. This lesser-known monument serves as a reminder of the strong historical ties between Scotland and the United States.
The Innocent Railway Tunnel
This hidden gem in Holyrood Park is a testament to Edinburgh’s industrial past. The Innocent Railway Tunnel, once part of the Edinburgh and Dalkeith Railway, now serves as a pedestrian and cyclist path. The 517-meter-long tunnel, lined with brick and sandstone, offers a unique and atmospheric journey through a lesser-known chapter of the city’s history.
The Impression of a Fossil Tree
Nestled within the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, you’ll find a remarkable natural artifact: a 330-million-year-old tree fossil. This enormous tree stump, discovered in 1830, is displayed in a glass case, allowing visitors to marvel at its intricate details and imagine the ancient landscape it once inhabited. The Impression of a Fossil Tree is a must-see for nature lovers and history buffs alike.
Edinburgh’s New Town is home to a striking and enigmatic sculpture known as The Watcher. Created by artist Kenny Hunter, this life-sized bronze figure gazes contemplatively over the city from the rooftop of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The sculpture’s mysterious allure has captivated locals and visitors alike, sparking various interpretations and making it a fascinating hidden gem.
The Witches’ Well
Tucked away on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, the Witches’ Well is a poignant memorial to the women who were persecuted for witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries. The bronze plaque, adorned with a serpent and a foxglove, commemorates the estimated 300 women who were executed on Castle Hill. This somber reminder of Scotland’s darker history is easily overlooked but holds significant historical importance.
The Dugald Stewart Monument
Perched on Calton Hill, the Dugald Stewart Monument is an elegant tribute to the Scottish philosopher and mathematician. Designed by architect William Henry Playfair, the monument’s neoclassical style was inspired by the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens. The striking structure, with its Corinthian columns and stunning views of the city, makes it a must-see for fans of architecture and history.
The Sherlock Holmes Statue
Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective will be delighted to find a statue of Sherlock Holmes just off Picardy Place, where the author was born. Unveiled in 1991, the bronze statue by artist Gerald Laing depicts Holmes in his iconic deerstalker hat and Inverness cape, deep in thought with a pipe in hand. This lesser-known tribute to one of literature’s most famous characters is a delightful find for fans and casual visitors alike.
The Bum and Bench
This quirky sculpture, located in the Grassmarket area, is sure to bring a smile to your face. The Bum and Bench, created by artist Lucy Poett, features a bronze bum imprint on a stone bench, inviting passersby to sit and enjoy a moment of rest. This playful piece of street art is a charming and unexpected gem in the heart of the city.
The Leith History Mural
Venture off the beaten path to Leith, a vibrant neighborhood just north of the city center, and discover the Leith History Mural. Painted by artists Tim Chalk, Paul Grime, and David Wilkinson, this colorful and detailed mural depicts the rich history of Leith and its community, from the 16th century to the present day. This hidden gem offers a fascinating glimpse into the area’s unique heritage and is well worth the short trip from the city center.
As you explore Edinburgh’s streets, take the time to seek out these lesser-known sculptures and monuments. Each one offers a unique perspective on the city’s history, culture, and artistic spirit, making them perfect destinations for travelers looking to uncover the hidden gems of Scotland’s enchanting capital.
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