Question: What’s the name of the hill overlooking the UK’s greenest city?
Answer: The hill of Arthur’s Seat overlooks Edinburgh, which won the title of “greenest city” in both 2017 and 2019.
The city of Edinburgh, Scotland has claimed the title of “greenest city in the UK” multiple times, most recently in 2017 and 2019. There are dozens of reasons why not only does Edinburgh have the most “green space” in a UK city, but they are also at the top of the list for recycling, air cleanliness, and electric car charging ports. Edinburgh isn’t content to just claim the title of the UK’s greenest city and relax, however. They’re moving forward with a five-year plan to make their city even more environmentally friendly.
The focus is on the green and growing spaces in Edinburgh. A satellite mapping project declared that Edinburgh was “49.2% green space,” the highest percentage in the United Kingdom. Having a high percentage of green space is how they claimed the title of greenest city in 2017, and now the Edinburgh’s City Council maintains over 130 parks and Heritage sites. Edinburgh also boasts the most trees per person of any UK city, making Edinburgh, literally, a “green” city.
These green spaces are the heart and soul of the city. Arthur’s Seat, once described by Robert Louis Stevenson as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design," is most prominent among them. The top spur of the hill offers an incredible view of Edinburgh sprawling out below it, close enough that you can pick out iconic landmarks like Edinburgh castle over on its own hill, or Hollyroodhouse right below. Maintaining these green spaces, like Arthur’s Seat, the Meadows, Calton Hill, Inverleith Park, and many more, keeps Edinburgh at the top of UK’s green cities list.
Parks and gardens aren’t the only factor, though. Edinburgh addresses the problem of environmental responsibility from every angle it can. They also invest heavily in making sure that the city’s recycling services are top-notch, and plan to keep increasing the percentage of waste products that get recycled every year. Edinburgh also topped the UK charts in the cities with the lowest air pollution, too.
10 More Facts about Edinburgh, Scotland:
- The One O’Clock Gun, an artillery cannon set on the wall of Edinburgh Castle, lives up to its name, firing every day to announce that it’s officially one o’clock.
- Beneath the bridges of Old Town Edinburgh, there exists a maze of underground passageways, rooms, and staircases from the 18th century (and earlier). These places became a haven for the lower rungs of Edinburgh society, and they even ran an underground tavern in these hidden vaults.
- The city is built across seven hills Calton Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill, Arthur’s Seat, and Castle Rock.
- Edinburgh may be the capital of Scotland, but it’s the second most populated city after Glasgow.
- Outside of the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, a cemetery in Edinburgh, you’ll find the statue of a dog with a very well-polished head. That’s Greyfriar’s Bobby, a dog who sat beside his owner’s grave every day for 14 years (1856-1872). He became a local legend, and people now pat the head of the statue that honors the loyal dog.
- The Stone of Destiny, a square stone block ceremoniously used to crown Scottish Kings, was taken by King Edward in 1296 back to England to represent Scotland’s subservience to the English crown. In 1950, four Scottish students snuck into Westminster abbey, stole the stone, and brought it back to Scotland.
- In contrast to the green and environmentally friendly city we know today, the Edinburgh of the 1800’s was so polluted and filled with smoke that people nicknamed it Auld Reekey, Scots for “Old Smokey.”
- The month-long Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest performing arts festival in the entire world, with 3000 shows across 300 different venues.
- Both Castle Rock (where Edinburgh Castle sits) and Arthur’s Seat are ancient and extinct volcanoes.
- The Royal Mile, the famous shopping street that leads to Edinburgh Castle, actually runs longer than a mile—it’s one mile and 107 yards long, officially.
Get an insider’s look at Edinburgh when you explore the city with a local guide on our Scotland Revealed: Legends, Lochs, and Highland Landscapes adventure.