Scotland has some of the United Kingdom’s most awesome scenery, of wild coasts and misty islands, deep lochs and high mountains. Glencoe, for example, has atmospheric grandeur that evokes tragic human associations. The country’s turbulent history is reflected in the preponderance of powerful castles, of which Eileen Donan occupies the most picturesque location. Scotland’s martial memories are marked by restoration of many medieval towers in the 17th- 18th- and 19th century; Scottish aristocrats preferred renovated medieval castles to more modern country houses. The grand Scottish Baronial style evolved both from Scottish tradition and through borrowings from French architecture. This style, developed in the 16th century and popularized by Sir Walter Scott in the 19th, combined Scottish machicolation and crow-stepped gables with French flourishes like mansard roofs conical roofs. Most illustrious is the royal family’s Balmoral. Many Scottish castles are surrounded by magnificent formal gardens. Other Scottish gardens’ extraordinary variety of plants from across the world stems from the warming Gulf Stream that allows the cultivation of myriad species.
In the early Middle Ages, Ireland’s St Columba converted Scotland’s Picts. He founded a community on the small Hebrides island of Iona, where a later Romanesque Benedictine monastery, now well restored, occupies a picturesque site. Glasgow’s cathedral is a particularly fine example of the Gothic style. Edinburgh has fine Neo-Classical architecture that led to it being called ‘The Athens of the North’. Dominated by its lofty castle, its landmarks include Renaissance Holyrood Palace. Edinburgh’s particularly important Botanical Gardens are a world leader in species preservation. Glasgow, one of Britain’s greatest 19th-century industrial cities, at the turn of the 20th century produced one of the world’s finest architect/designers, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His Hill House is exemplary. Glasgow suffered decline in the 20th century only to experience a great revival in the 1970s, prompted by the fame of its magnificent Burrell Collection.
Discover Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow, view fine castles and gardens incl. Mount Stuart, Benmore, Inverewe, Cawdor, Glamis & Drummond, and visit the ancient Abbey of Iona. Read more
Explore the rugged natural beauty of Shetland & Orkney. View the prehistoric sites of Skara Brae, Maeshowe, Stones of Stenness & Ring of Brodgar; Kirkwall, Lerwick & the islands' spectacular birdlife. Read more