Surprising Facts about Edinburgh

Greyfriars kirkyard is home to some of the Harry Potter characters! It’s well-known that J.K Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book whilst sitting in a cafe on the Royal Mile. What you might not know, however, is that she found some of the inspiration for the characters at the Greyfriars cemetery. Of these, Thomas Riddell and William McGonagall were names discovered here and used for her characters.

  1. A penguin at the Edinburgh zoo has a knighthood and is the official mascot of the Norwegian royal guards! He is the Chief of the Royal Guard of the Norwegian Guard.
  2. There are 29 safes under the South Bridge. Most cities have been built on top, with roads still available underground for public viewing. However, South Bridge Vaults is a little unique. Completed in 1788, this safe was built only to store goods in the streets above. After getting wet in the shops moved to the newly built town and the vaults used to house thousands of poor people as a result of overcrowding. You can now take a ghost tour here which is not for the faint of heart!

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  1. Edinburgh has the world’s first fire extinguisher. In 1824, led by James Braidwood, the world’s first city fire department was formed. After a series of devastating fires in the Old City, a fire department was formed.
  2. The nickname Edinburgh “Auld Reekie” doesn’t really come from the scent of the city at the time of population density but it derives from the term “Old Smokey”. Old Smokey is a common name from when Edinburgh used coal and trains in and out of the city which covered the air with thick smoke.
  3. The Edinburgh landscape is formed by glaciers. Much of Edinburgh was founded when shifts and changes in glaciers thousands of years ago moved the earth to shape what we see today. Whether you’re coming to Edinburgh for business or leisure, use Irish Airports like
  4. James Bond was born here. OK, not the real James Bond but the actor, Sean Connery. The actor was born Thomas Sean Connery in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh on August 25, 1930.
  5. In recent times, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Castle have been the setting for many film sets, including Chariots of Fire, One Day and Shallow Grave.
  6. Snippets of Edinburgh appear in the popular video game, Grand Theft Auto. The Forth Road Bridge, as well as the Forth Rail Bridge in Queensferry, are both seen in the game.

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  1. In the 17th century, Edinburgh “invented” a cure for baldness by rubbing the ashes of pigeon manure which burned on their heads. It didn’t work, but it’s worth a try and was very popular at the time.
  2. There are many sculptures dedicated to animals and famous people throughout Edinburgh but look a little closer and you will see that all of these statues are male or animal. There is but one female statue that stands in Edinburgh, of Queen Victoria at the bottom of Leith Walk.
  3. An elephant once lived in Edinburgh Castle. The elephant was brought to Edinburgh from Sri Lanka and it became the regimental mascot. Amusingly, the elephant developed a taste for a beer while living in the castle.
  4. Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK that holds giant koalas and pandas!

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