Scotland's UNESCO Trail in Pictures
Scotland has 13 locations marked as worthy of protected UNESCO status. What’s more, Scotland is the first country in the world to boast it’s own UNESCO Trail which brings together all 13 of its wonderous sites in an accessible digital format. Learn more about Scotland's UNESCO Trail through these amazing images.
Step inside this vivid yellow 16th-century house in the Canongate of the capital’s Royal Mile. The Renaissance building of the museum is as much a draw as any of the artefacts. It’s just one of the amazingly well-preserved architectural features which make up the historic heart of Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town. A jumble of narrow closes and wynds, stacked tenements and sharp spires, the Old Town stands in stark contrast to its spacious and symmetrical sister, the 18th century New Town. Together they form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These mysterious monuments have stood on Orkney for at least 5000 years but we still don't know why they were built - perhaps they served a religious or astronomical purpose. The stones are just one of four sites which form the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They date from a time when one of Scotland’s earliest civilisations was starting to take shape. These include the equally iconic Ring of Brodgar, the chambered Cairn of Maeshow, and a collection of eight homes which form the community of Skara Brae.
Meet Silvanus at the Nethercroy site of the Antonine Wall, a colossal head of a Roman centurion named after the Roman god of the woods. He’s a dramatic reminder of a time when the land was cut through by this formidable barrier patrolled by 7000 soldiers. Constructed by Emperor Pius in 142 AD it marked the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire. Today several remnants of the wall survive which can be visited.
The landscape of Shetland is among the most dramatic on earth. Just look at the coast of Eshaness with the uninhabited island of Dore Holm and its natural arch in the distance. Shaped over a millennia by shifting sea, sand and powerful winds, the archipelago’s unique geology lends the island vast swathes of natural drama. It also supports an incredibly rich biodiversity, including an array of rare flora and fauna, as well a unique way of life honed by generations of islanders.
The Forth Bridge is one of Scotland’s most iconic monuments. It's recognised for its engineering and technological ingenuity as it was the first structure of its kind in the world to be constructed from mild steel, and it has stood the test of time. Today it sees over 200 trains cross it between the Lothians to Fife at a speed of around 80 km an hour.
Literature has been the beating heart of Edinburgh’s cultural life for centuries. In fact, Edinburgh is the only city in the world to erect a huge monument to an author. Measuring 60 metres, the Scott Monument is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, the author of the Waverley novels and Rob Roy. It’s just one striking example of how much writers are revered here. It’s a special part of the city’s character which has seen UNESCO honour it as a City of Literature.
This small, remote archipelago of five volcanic islands is one of UNESCO’s most fascinating World Heritage Sites. Its landscapes are legendary and the story of the self-sustaining community which lived off the land right up until 1930s is a captivating one. You can still glimpse the ghostly remains of the last inhabited village on its largest island Hirta by the bay. The highest sea cliffs in the UK are also found here, along with the other immense jagged sea stacks, which host one of the world’s largest colonies of gannets.
New Lanark changed the world. In fact, many of the progressive social values which shaped society and the working world were birthed here by its founder Robert Adam. This industrial village was built around the welfare of its millworkers, and remains very much frozen in time. You can take in the full scale and careful construction of Adam’s vision from the Roof Garden.
Creativity and innovation have long been the heart and soul of Dundee, a UNESCO Creative City. Once world-renowned for ship building and textiles, Dundee has slowly transitioned into a design hub. Step inside Scotland’s first design museum and discover how design has shaped the world we live in today. You can also pay a visit to one of the ships built during the city’s ship-building peak, the magnificent RRS Discovery. This magnificent vessel sailed explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first intrepid expedition to the Antarctic from 1901-04.
Spanning 300 square miles, Galloway Forest Park is one of the largest forests in the UK. It’s also a Dark Sky Park thanks to it’s crystal-clear night skies. What many don’t realise is that it comprises just part of a much larger natural wonderland protected by UNESCO, the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. It’s a vast area covering swathes of south Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes, rich in geological wonders and teeming with wildlife. It also boasts its own unique culture and heritage marked by a vibrant creative scene and a respect for the environment.
The twists and turns of the Bealach na Ba road are just about as thrilling as the scenery of Applecross Peninsula in the Highlands. It’s part of the Wester Ross Biosphere, a vast area home to some of the most spectacular and unpopulated landscapes in the UK. It encompasses mountains, beaches, fairy glens, romantic castles, and Scotland’s most famous driving route, the North Coast 500. In short, it’s place of rare and unique natural beauty, where flora and fauna flourish alongside small communities.
The Barrowland Ballroom is just one of the iconic venues which helped Glasgow earn its title of UNESCO City of Music. From lively trad music sessions in traditional pubs and intimate gigs by up-and-coming acts in venues like Òran Mór and St Luke’s, to spectacular shows from the world’s biggest superstars at the futuristic-looking OVO Hydro, music is the lifeblood of the city. Whether you’re here for a show or a festival like the folky Celtic Connections or the big outdoor extravaganza of TRNSMT, there are plenty of other ways you can discover Glasgow’s fantastic music scene.
Forming part of the North West Highlands Geopark, discover a landscape of outstanding beauty with a geological lineage which stretches back 3 billion years. Here you’ll find some of the most precious geological artefacts in the world. Surprisingly accessible, the geopark is located just five hours by car from Edinburgh and Glasgow and encompasses 100 miles of the popular North Coast 500 route.
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