The Stories Cities Tell Us / Edinburgh


It’s a cold weekend in Edinburgh. There’s no doubt you will finally find yourself killing time in some local bar, listening to one of those weird mid-century stories about Half-Hangit Maggie. It’s actually a perfect excuse to hear some more - maybe even having a folklore tour? And by folklore, I mean storytelling. So, I found myself in a couple of unusual situations while exploring the city - first, I am standing in a dungeon, which is actually a street below a street (and it’s in a bridge), and hearing the story about white witches practicing magic in one of those rooms in front of me where they usually marry people. Second, standing in a graveyard line to see the famous stone that gave an inspiration (not officially confirmed) for a fictional character. 



Can’t say I had been in any city like Edinburgh before. And you know that saying that the city is the people. Boy, this city is all about them. Despite the fact that sometimes I get lost during the trips in social situations, like why Scottish people don’t hello, while Japanese is always acknowledging your persistence? The first day I arrived to Edinburgh being food poisoned. I entered the National Gallery and tried not to lose myself, literally. There’s a great amusement to watch Paul Cezanne or Vincent van Gogh while trying not to throw-up.

Death masks

While I enjoyed scotch in The Waverley bar, I overheard a story about death masks. Afterwards, I went to the National Portrait Gallery to check if it’s true. It’s true. It may seem like a Ripley’s believe it or not, but there was a time in history when people made masks of dead people. Photography in some way, they would say. The process was painful, but luckily people were dead not to feel hot metal smacking their faces.


Edinburg is the city of hills. Good luck walking that town all over! Hills represent and deceive some kind of incredible secret of the mid-century. You can easily tour the underground where all outcasts lived. It was some kind of another world down there where the rich ones came looking for gambling or girls, while the poor were creating a life for themselves and criminals hid their dirty work. It is said that the underground was necessary because of the diseases that were already widely spread in town. They “traveled” through human excrements that were dumped simply out of the window all around the city. That’s why Scottish people built another city. 


There is no tour in Edingburg where they wouldn’t mention witches. They were brutally burned at stake between the 15th and 18th centuries. It was not an easy task. Witches were dumped into the water to see if they survived; and if so, they were burned. No easy ending. Apparently, King James paranoia took a little too far as 4,000 to 6,000 people were killed. No wonder why Harry Potter author was inspired by the city she currently lives in. 

There are so much more to tell as I go deeper into the night at that local bar. But no story can convey the feeling of walking through the drizzle in a cold November night. Remember, come to Edinburgh to listen. Relax, and have a drink at a local pub.

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