Underground streets of Edinburgh: Concoction of History, Culture, and Mystery

Underground streets of Edinburgh: Concoction of History, Culture, and Mystery

June 4, 2019 Off By Paul Petersen


The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is a hilly city located amidst nature and modernity. Surrounded by breath-taking Old Town that depicts the history of medieval culture, and sky-high buildings that are a sign of the modernity the city has embraced. As the sky high tall structures are being built over the ground by the people of the city, the Underground streets of Edinburgh still hold a lot of mystery and are a view to witness with all the cultures from the 17th Century. The long tunnels and passages are dark, with centuries-old history being held by each of the alleyways.

These tunnels and alleyways were built during the 17th Century in the Old Town of Edinburgh to accommodate the then overpopulated city. As the rich people got the chance to stay above ground, the poor people had no choice but to live their lives in dark alleyways. Here are a few tunnels and vaults that are underground in Edinburgh, what once used to be lively city now turned into dark tunnels.

  • South Bridge Vaults: The construction began in 1785, as there were 19 bridges built of which only one is visible today. These hidden vaults were used for trading, and as housing by cobblers and taverns. It was, however, eventually shut down due to poor lighting condition and inadequate sanitation. Sometime in the 19th Century, these vaults were filled with rubbles to stop people from using it to carry out criminal activities.
  • Mary King’s Close: Mary King’s Close was what accommodated the overcrowding population of Edinburgh in the 17th Century. As the rich people lived over the ground getting the proper lighting and cleaner environment, the poor people were expected to live underground in the dark, with the lousy sewage system. Mary King’s Close is told to be haunted by the ghosts of those people who lived their lives in pain and poverty.
  • Scotland Street Tunnel: As the modern buildings were erected all over the city, Edinburgh still holds dear to its heart, the architecture and forts of the Victorian Era. The Underground Tunnels are no different. The Scotland Street Tunnel was built in the 1840s, to create a direct link from Canal Street Station to Granton and places beyond it. However, the operations of this street tunnel came to an end in 1868, after only 21 years.

Edinburgh, thus, does not only hold the beauty of modernization and Victorian Era above the ground but also below it, depicting the architectural genius.