In 2016 Scotland plans to launch the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – a themed year to be led by VisitScotland alongside partners including Architecture + Design Scotland, National Museums Scotland, Festival of Architecture 2016 and V&A Museum of Design Dundee.

Scotland’s architectural landscape charts the country’s history through design; from medieval crofts and castles, to Victorian tenements and cutting-edge, contemporary buildings and structures.

Edinburgh – Old & New Towns

Both are individually recognised as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Old Town is Edinburgh’s medieval heart and there’s a sense of history around every corner. Architectural highlights include Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles Cathedral, the Palace of Holyrood house and John Knox’s House. Dating from 1767, New Town is characterised by its wide, symmetrical streets and large tree-filled squares. The highlight is Charlotte Square, the north side of which was designed by celebrated Scottish architect Robert Adam. Don’t miss the elegant Georgian House at No. 7 Charlotte Square.

The Lothians – Hopetoun House

One of Scotland’s finest stately homes, Hopetoun House, a half-hour drive from Edinburgh, is one of the finest examples of 18th-century architecture in Britain. The magnificent interiors, which have remained virtually unchanged for three centuries, reflect the elegance of the Georgian era. There are also 150-acres of grounds to explore around the House, with several walks and trails.

Stirling – Stirling Castle

Enter the court of Scotland’s Stuart monarchs at one of the grandest of Scottish castles, Stirling Castle, a 40-minute drive from Glasgow. A major strategic stronghold during the 13th and 14th centuries it was subsequently a favourite royal residence where knights, nobles and ambassadors were received with pomp and ceremony. The castle’s unique story is brought to life by a series of living history performances and there are amazing views from the Castle ramparts.

The Forth Valley – Forth Bridges, South Queensferry, central Scotland

The iconic Forth Rail Bridge built across the River Forth in the late 19th century is celebrated as a major Scottish landmark and a milestone in the development of railway civil engineering – it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. It was joined by the Forth Road Bridge in 1964, and by the end of 2016, a third – the Queensferry Crossing – will be completed.

Scottish Borders – Borders’ Abbeys

The Scottish Borders have four remarkable abbeys, all of which are worth exploring for both their historic and architectural significance. Dryburgh Abbey by the River Tweed is a fine example of Gothic architecture, Jedburgh Abbey has a tranquil herb garden, Melrose is said to be the last resting place of the heart of King Robert the Bruce and Kelso Abbey still bears the traces of sustained cannon fire by the armies of King Henry VIII.



Glasgow – Charles Rennie Mackintosh sites and contemporary architecture

Glasgow is a city of contrasts from the remnants of the ship-building industry to the celebrated Art Nouveau-inspired designs of the city’s sons and architects, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His legacy can be seen in the stylish and unique architectural designs of various buildings around the city open to the public. These include Glasgow School of Art, House for an Art Lover, The Lighthouse and the Willow Tearooms.

For contemporary architecture head to the banks of the River Clyde and discover the titanium Glasgow Science Centre, Sir Norman Foster’s ‘Armadillo’ – the Clyde Auditorium – and the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum.

Images: Stirling Castle interior/VisitBritian

Riverside Museum – cVisitBritain/Craig Easton