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The City of Edinburgh

Edinburgh city

Edinburgh is steeped in tradition, where imposing historical structures and modern architectural designs sit side by side. The medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town are both world heritage sites as recognised by UNESCO, and the city was the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

At the heart of Scotland's capital is Edinburgh Castle, which sits majestically atop an extinct volcano and boasts unrivalled views of the city and beyond. Along the Royal Mile can be seen the Castle, the Scottish Parliament, the dramatic precipices of Arthur’s Seat and The Queen’s official residence when she is in Scotland – the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The population of Edinburgh is just under 500,000 but over the summer the population swells to well over 1 million as people come for the Film Festival, Book Festival, International Festival and the Festival Fringe. Soon there will be refurbishments of both the National Portrait Gallery and National Museum, along with the redevelopment of arts venue the Usher Hall.

St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh is the Cathedral church of the Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. It was named the Metropolitan Cathedral on 5th July 1886. The present Archbishop, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, was ordained to the episcopate and enthroned as Archbishop on 5th August 1985. Each year the Cathedral is also the setting for the Solemn Mass to mark the opening of the Edinburgh International Festival. Likewise of great significance is the annual "Red Mass", the votive Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated to implore God's blessing and gift of wisdom on the deliberations of the legal profession in Scotland.

The liturgical highlight of the Cathedral's life was the visit of Pope John Paul II on 31st May 1982. During his pastoral visit to Scotland he addressed a large congregation of priests, female and male religious in the Cathedral, and prayed at the shrine of St Andrew. The Cathedral will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2014.