Edinburgh Nights: Temple to the Arts

IMG_Royal Scottish Academy nighttime.JPG
Sitting on The Mound in the heart of Edinburgh is a Grecian style temple dedicated to the arts. If it sounds out of place don’t be fooled. Physically this ramped road links the two halves of historic Edinburgh, the cramped and jumbled Old Town and the elegant spacious New Town. The temple itself links the historic art of the past with modern contemporary and emerging Scottish art. It is a beautiful building in an iconic and unmissable site, and I think it looks best by lamplight, as was planned when it was opened in 1835.

IMG_Royal Scottish Academy Doric column.JPG
The Doric columns which adorn the temple, are typical of the Greek Revival style of architecture which you can see all around Edinburgh’s New Town. The Scottish enlightenment led to a love of all things classic, and William Henry Playfair, who designed the building had planned for a statue of Pallas Athena to sit on top of this eye catching site. She was considered the patron Goddess of architecture, as her temple in Athens was considered the touchstone of perfection for enlightenment architects. It never happened, but in 1844 a huge statue of Queen Victoria was placed here instead.

IMG_Royal Scottish Academy Edinburgh night.JPG
The whole site underwent a redesign in 2004, and a huge underground connecting space between this temple, the Royal Scottish Academy, and it’s next door neighbour the National Gallery of Scotland, expanded the exhibition space enormously. The traditional style lamps and wrought iron railings were replaced at this time, and I love the lighting effects these old fashioned lamps produce at night. You can almost imagine the clop of hooves as carriages drive past, and the swish of long silk skirts up the stone steps.

IMG_RSA Edinburgh lamps nighttime.JPG
Some things just look better by the soft light of lamps. Edinburgh is full of many such lovely spots, which look magical at night, when the shadows of history lean in closer.

See more nighttime shots at this weeks WP challenge.

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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32 Responses to Edinburgh Nights: Temple to the Arts

  1. Ese' s Voice says:

    Very majestic! AND beautiful, of course… I think the lights have a double effect – making everything a touch softer but also more dramatic at the same time.
    PS: What a lovely new Gravatar photo, Seonaid!

  2. restlessjo says:

    It looks magnificent by night, Seonaid! I wish I’d had a little more time to hang around. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. LB says:

    Yes, those soft lights and the wet ground. Beautiful nighttime shots!

  4. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I’d also much prefer a statue of Athena than Queen Victoria ๐Ÿ™‚ Cool photos though!

  5. Pingback: Photo Challenge: Nighttime | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

  6. Pingback: Photo Challenge: Nighttime | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

  7. gwynnrogers says:

    Lovely photos! I think we actually drove past this about 25 years ago. I was driving, but because we didn’t know where in Edinburgh to park or even where we wanted to go we kept driving right on through town. I was really heart-broken too as I was hoping to find a yarn store or a store where I could purchase a Scottish sweater. Since I knit, I have heard wonderful things about your yarns. Your picture brings back memories. Thank you!!

    • You probably did Gwynn as it sits right on Princes Street…..however nowadays no cars are allowed to drive along Princes Street ๐Ÿ™‚
      As for yarns, yes lots of delights…..I’m sure you create some wonderful knits.

  8. Amy says:

    Magnificent architecture! Great photos!

  9. If it looks that great from the outside, I can’t image the wealth of wonders which await on the inside! You did go in … didn’t you? D

    • I’m a member of the RSA ( Royal Scottish Academy) so I’m often in the building. It hosts lots of great exhibitions of new works, as well as the permanent collection in the second temple….the National Galleries of Scotland. Always worth a visit ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Colline says:

    These shots really bring up the beauty of these columns.

  11. Tina Schell says:

    Magical shots Seonaid; hard to choose a favorite but I really love the shot of the single column. Beautifully done.

  12. colonialist says:

    The lamps and railings are gorgeous.
    I think Victoria should be booted off to somewhere else – Athena belongs there.

    • I love all that old wrought iron….the originals were of course melted down during WWII, so it was about time they were replaced ๐Ÿ™‚
      I agree about Victoria, but in fact her statue is rather eye catching as she is dressed as Britannia…..will try try and catch a shot…..and lit in red! Still Athena would have looked perfect….

      • colonialist says:

        Glad they were ABLE to replace them! Workmanship like that isn’t often seen these days.
        On the other hand, Aoife or one of those would have been even more appropriate. It is Scotland, after all!

  13. Very nicely lit and captured

    • Yeah, the new old lamps really make all the difference, giving lovely pools of soft light. Capturing it all was a challenge, but fun learning…..and I really must learn to take my tripod on night shoots!

  14. What a beautiful edifice, Seonaid. These night shots really make it look magical. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Uncle Tree says:

    The magnificence of ancient splendor is adorable, especially at night.
    Your photographs nicely capture that essence, Seonaid.
    Happy Sunday to you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Peace and luvz, UT

  16. Nice photos especially the last one – love the reflections.

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