Doors open on Edinburgh's secret treasures

Take a step into the past and discover some of Edinburgh's most historic locations this weekend when a number of Council sites and venues play host to Doors Open Day 2014.

Edinburgh Doors Open Day is organised by The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh's Civic Trust). Now in its 24th year, the mostly free event has become one of the Capital's most popular free days out. 

Councillor Richard Lewis, Convener of Culture and Sport, said: "Doors Open Day is a fantastic opportunity to explore some of Edinburgh's most historic and fascinating sites and buildings and we're very much looking forward to welcoming the crowds to all our venues this weekend.

“Take in the stunning city views with a free walking tour up Calton Hill, hear the words of Burns at the Monument erected in his honour, walk in the footsteps of Edinburgh's civic leaders past and present at the City Chambers or simply soak up the tranquil surroundings at Edinburgh’s first Victorian cemetery- whatever special places you choose to visit you're certain to have a memorable day out."  

Alongside free walking tours of Edinburgh’s historic Calton Hill on Saturday (10am and 2pm) and Sunday (12pm and 1pm), a number of attractions normally under lock and key will be open for a visit:

CITY CHAMBERS

The City Chambers houses a number of key civic spaces used by the Council and members of the public for civic and private functions, including weddings.

In recent years, the City Chambers has undergone extensive conservation work to retain original features and update the general infrastructure of the building. The focus of this has been the restoration of the main chamber to its former splendour, along with the refurbishment of the impressive ten storey central staircase. 

The main part of the building known today as the City Chambers was built in 1753 by John Adam and was called The Royal Exchange. In 1811 it was taken over by the Council as they had outgrown their previous accommodation at the Tolbooth. From 1811-1903 the Council met in what today is known as The Diamond Jubilee Room. In 1904 the building was extended to form larger accommodation for the Council which included the Council Chamber, European Room and Members Lounge.

WAVERLEY COURT

The Urban Room at the City of Edinburgh Council’s headquarters is open for visitors to attend a new exhibition to mark 100 years of planning.

The temporary exhibition takes the visitor through ten decades of the Edinburgh skyline from 1914 to the present day.  From the father of modern town planning, Sir Patrick Geddes, to the man who designed Edinburgh's iconic police boxes, Ebenezer James Macrae, the exhibition takes a look at the personalities who have made significant contributions to the cityscape of the Capital.

WARRISTON CEMETERY

Edinburgh’s first Victorian garden cemetery was designed by David Cousin in 1843. Work has been undertaken by the Friends of

Warriston Cemetery, with an aim to bring the older parts of the cemetery back into a state of good repair. This has allowed the public access to the family burial ground as well as providing a source of local and national history, whilst also encouraging appropriate biodiversity. Volunteers will be at the Warriston Gardens gate.

ASSEMBLY ROOMS

For almost 230 years, the Assembly Rooms has played host to hundreds of thousands of events. From royal banquets to talent contests, conferences to ceilidhs, the building also welcomed authors Dickens, Thackeray and Scott for public readings. The 18-month refurbishment project has breathed new life into the Assembly Rooms, resulting in modernised spaces which retain the building’s character and beauty. The work is in keeping with its history seeing the A-listed building return to its 18th century splendour, but with the inclusion of modern technical infrastructure to improve its capabilities as a premier venue for contemporary events. Architectural details have been repaired and enhanced, with 22 carat gold leaf and a fresh neutral theme throughout providing a stunning backdrop for any event, from performances to conferences and weddings.

RIDDLE’S COURT

This is the last opportunity to visit Riddle’s Court before a £5.5m restoration project will transform it into the Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning and Conservation. Once again the team have unearthed more fascinating knowledge about this unique building over the past year, including a connection to the infamous Major Thomas Weir. Visit to see the remarkable interiors, enchanting courtyards and examine the future plans for the building.

BURNS MONUMENT

Another chance to see inside this beautiful neoclassical temple on Regent Road, built by architect Thomas Hamilton in 1831 and recently restored as part of the Twelve Monuments Restoration Project.

Based on the Choragic monument of Lysicrates in Athens, the monument was designed to house a statue of Robert Burns by sculptor John Flaxman. Flaxman used the portrait of Burns by Alexander Nasmyth as a model.

Members of the Edinburgh and District Burns Club will express their love of the monument and Burns in poetry and song.

Take a look at the Doors Open Days 2014 Programme.

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