The northernmost part of the Island of Great Britain, Scotland, commonly referred to as the ‘highlands and islands’, covers uplands, mountainous areas and many islands. Romantic landscapes, remote villages and beautiful lakes surrounded by mountains are the most popular images of Scotland. However, the country also boasts a unique culture, stunning architecture and vibrant cities.
The Scottish Highlands in the north are remote, wild and mountainous, and feature the highest mountain ranges in Scotland: the Munros Mountains and the Corbetts in the Cairngorms National Park. The region is scarcely populated, offering unique scenery. Of almost 800 Scottish islands, some of the better known islands include the archipelagos of the Hebrides, the Orkneys and the Shetland islands. Scotland is dotted with numerous lochs (lakes), including the scenic Loch Lomond and Loch Duich, as well as the most famous Loch Ness, with its legendary dragon lurking underneath its waters. Loch Ness also features the picturesque Urquhart Castle and ideal hiking areas.
Glasgow is the main industrial centre and largest city in Scotland. A blend of vibrant nightlife, shopping, impressive architecture, as well as many galleries and museums make Glasgow an ideal tourist destination. It harmoniously combines majestic Victorian buildings with up-to-date designs of celebrated architects, seen in the city’s university, the Tolbooth Steeple, the Glasgow School of Art, the Lighthouse and Templeton’s Carpet Factory. Impressive architecture is also displayed in such modern structures as Elphistone Place, Clyde Arc and Sir Norman Forster’s Clyde Auditorium, which resembles the Sydney Opera.
Edinburgh, though smaller than Glasgow, is the capital of Scotland. Its beautiful Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Attractions of the city include its impressive castle, the Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, St Giles’ Cathedral and Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura. A number of museums and galleries add to the attractiveness of the city, which also hosts the largest art festival in the world. Fans of the famous book and movie 'The Da Vinci Code' can visit the Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, where the last part of the novel is set. This Gothic shrine is full of legends and mysteries, as well as Templar and Masonic motifs.
Until the beginning of the 18th Century, Scotland had been a separate independent state and today is known for its own tradition, significant folk culture and excellent whiskey. Popular associations with Scotland include bagpipe players, checked kilts and the thistle symbol. Scottish culture is distinct and rich, with such renowned figures as Sir Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Burns. Scots speak English, but a small part of the population also speaks Scots Gaelic. In some regions, people have a specific accent, which sometimes makes mixing with the locals quite difficult, especially in the area of Dundee, where an almost incomprehensible pronunciation is used.
Scotland is a magical land where tourists find extraordinary diversity of landscapes, architectural and cultural attractions. Apart from its breathtaking mountains, romantic uplands and lovely wild lakes, the country boasts plenty of other destinations as well.