Edinburgh Feng Shui Highlights


I had the pleasure of exploring Edinburgh, Scotland for two weeks in December. What a fabulous trip! The city is a feng shui delight of various neighborhoods, each with a unique character and vibe. My husband, daughter, and I leisurely walked five or more miles on most days, meandering up and down through various streets, sites, and parks and trails. It’s a hilly city!


Edinburgh has deep roots. Chartered as a Royal Burgh in 1124, weapons tracing back to the Bronze Age (600 BC) were found in 1778. As I wound my way through the cobblestone streets of Old Town, I envisioned what it must have been like to live there years ago. Although the 19th century Dickens era is often romanticized in literature, life for Scots living in tenement buildings was dismal. The conditions were cramped and less than sanitary. The long, dark winters were cold and damp, food was scarce, and the rule of law was harsh.


Today, Old Town is vibrant as it fills with tourists throughout the year. During the holiday season (which begins early in November), bright lights everywhere contribute to a festive feeling, particularly since darkness descends during the mid-afternoon. The Christmas Market, with Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop, was fun to experience. Edinburgh Castle, in existence since at least the 12th century, stands tall on a rocky crag of an extinct volcano that was created during the last ice age. On our first night in Edinburgh, we were treated to a fabulous holiday light show outside the castle. It set a nice tone for our entire visit. In August, the population in the city swells three-fold, due to the International Edinburgh Festival.  If you visit then, book your accomodations well ahead of time.


New Town, a short walk from Old Town, was an upscale planned community that was built in stages between 1767 – 1850. The architectural style is neo-classical and Georgian. Designed around a series of beautiful squares and gardens, New Town’s streets are wide, the townhouses are attractive and well-kept. Many of the houses had beautiful front entrances and prominent front windows graced with Christmas trees. Although there are many specialty shops, boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops on the main streets, others are quietly tucked in on side streets. The approximately thirty private gardens are gated and managed through membership. Shareholders have keys and pay a fee to ensure that the gardens are well-maintained. In 1995, Old Town and New Town were designated as World Heritage sites and the New Town Gardens received a Heritage designation in 2001.


We also visited the port of Leith, where the Queen’s Royal Yacht Britannia is permanently docked. It was fun to see the elaborate state apartments on Britannia contrasted with working quarters for the sailors and staff. Periodically the yacht rents for private events. Leith, a waterfront working class neighborhood, is undergoing a lot of renovation and is expanding with new construction.


Marchmont was another charming neighborhood comprised of upscale private homes, curvy streets with sidewalks, and numerous gardens and parks, tucked behind shops, restaurants and businesses that line the main road. We traveled through The Meadows enroute to Marchmont, a large public park of open fields with tree-lined paths and trails. It has a large playground, tennis courts, and other recreational areas.


A highlight of our visit to Marchmont was a Sunday roast at the #1 The Grange restaurant. This was a delicious midday dinner of roast beef, duck-fat roasted potatoes, green beans, roasted root vegetables and Yorkshire pudding. Sunday roasts are popular, particularly during the cold, winter months. Ours was so tasty and such a relaxing way to spend Sunday afternoon, that we chose a restaurant in New Town for another Sunday roast the following week. Overall, our meals throughout our visit were superb! Edinburgh is an international city with many young, creative chefs. We had a mix of traditional and contemporary meals with a good number of fresh vegetables and tasty soups.


Throughout our stay in Edinburgh, I noted how the buildings hold the deep, rich history of this land. Built primarily of sandstone, the outside of most older buildings has blackened over the years. It’s recommended to leave it alone, as trying to clean it actually causes the sandstone to crumble. Most roofs are slate. The windows are large, bringing in as much light as possible. In New Town it was fun to see how some windows although framed, were painted (rather than glass) to maintain symmetry. The area behind the fake windows often hid interior chimneys or pipes.


Most of the buildings in Edinburgh are four to six stories tall, which creates a nice human-scaled environment. Edinburgh Castle, on one of the highest hills, can be viewed prominently throughout the city. Next to the Castle, churches and church spires are among the other tallest buildings. We didn’t see any skyscrapers. If they are there, they are on the outskirts of the city. As a World Heritage Site, building conservation is an important part of Edinburgh’s historic and cultural legacy.  


Another nice feature from our trip is Scotland’s focus on sustainability. It’s not wonder that the Climate Conference was in Glasgow in November, 2021. Scotland is a leader when it comes to reducing trash and reusing and repurposing as much as you can. Recycle bins are throughout the city, there are many thrift shops, and it’s customary to bring carry bags to grocery store and shops. Our hotel also was focused on sustainability and only provides toiletry items upon request, as too much was being wasted.


Here are eight feng shui take-aways from this trip:

  • The “built environment” is a nice extension of the natural environment. They blend together.
  • Natural building materials last for centuries and omit the waste of our modern throw-away society.
  • The curvy roads, paths, and alleyways soften sharper angles coming from buildings and land.
  • The low-height buildings feel comfortable, providing a nice human scale and wonderful views.
  • Numerous parks and gardens add beauty and a place for people to gather and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Gates provide privacy while adding beauty, curiosity, and interest.
  • Walkable cities and neighborhoods help build community and contribute to better overall health, since people get outdoors and exercise daily.
  • Waterfront cities have been among the most prosperous worldwide, with a wide variety of commerce and global trade.

If you enjoy exploring historic areas and you have a chance to visit Edinburgh, I encourage you to do so! There’s plenty to do, the people are warm and friendly, and the food is delicious. I’m looking forward to a return visit.


If you’re interested in visiting picturesque villages throughout the UK, this story might interest you, too.