Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grey Skies That Aren't Going to Clear Up

Edinburgh under a typical slate colored sky

King Arthur's Seat

The way modernity and the past have integrated themselves to form the heartbeat of Edinburgh fascinates me. I can't yet wrap my head around the juxtapositions of these cobble stoned streets and 16th/17th building alongside Apple stores and Starbuckses. It's difficult to strike a balance between acknowledging the importance and the influence of your origins while not getting trapped by them. It's a struggle we all face at some point in our lives and it's a struggle that sometimes takes ahold of the city. One of the building we saw on the tour was the new Scottish Parliament building. Now,  I won't give my own opinions on the building but it is an extremely modern piece of architecture. In fact, not only was it the most modern and avant-garde building I saw in the city, it's also sits right on the edge of Hollywood Park (a park that remains the property of the Queen). The park is where Arthur's Seat (the second picture above) is located. The contrast of this building of chrome and granite against the might and natural wonder of the park is truly a site to behold. But there's a stubbornness to both landmarks, a refusal to budge or conform to the shapes and colors of the other, that speaks to the character of Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh is a resilient city, a city that has been written off time and time again throughout history and that has time and time again defeated it's naysayers to survive another day. She's an ancient city, a younger, wilder Rome. Rome may seem like a strange companion city for the likes of Edinburgh but I began to draw this parallel after an interesting fact I heard on our bus tour of the city. Apparently both Rome and Edinburgh were built on seven hills, literally creating a city built of layers.  But I find a stronger connection than pure geography. It's the incredible influence that the past exerts over this place. Around every corner, under every bridge, inside every shop, you run in to it.  Everything here is a piece of history. And it's wonderful. At least I think so. The past is an innate part of the present in Edinburgh. Rather than something that needs to be taught through a structured lesson plan, it's learned simply by living here, by being here. Maybe there really is something in those ever looming, ever watchful grey clouds. Perhaps they're full of some ancient magic, some mystical properties of preservation and endurance, trading rough weather for the guardianship of the city.

To be fair, the title of this post is not entirely true. Edinburgh does, every so often, have a burst of sunshine. But, more often than not, it's skies appear like they do in the images above. But  though I've been told by natives and foreigners alike that "You don't come to Edinburgh for the weather," I find the constant mass of dappled grey above to be spectacular. The skyline suits the city. It's hard to imagine Edinburgh, the look and feel of the city, without that vision of savage grey overhead. 

1 comment:

  1. Well amazingly there seem to be 60 cities built on 7 hills in the world, including Albany NY.
    But none have such a talented person writing about them but Edinburgh.