Destinations / City Breaks / Aberdeen
Quaint and very picturesque in parts, Aberdeen is often referred to as the "Granite City" due to its many quarried stone buildings which give it an austere look and a pleasing traditional air.
A lesser known fact about the city is its location between the mouths of two rivers, the Dee and the Don, and its unexpected stretch of sandy beach in between. This inspiring situation creates a truly Scottish backdrop to a richly historic city. Due to its flower-filled, colourful and beautifully tended parks, Aberdeen has been the winner of "Britain in Bloom" for so many years in a row that it was requested they abstain from the compeition for a while to allow other British cities to be in with a chance of the title! Union Terrace Gardens, Duthie Park, Johnston Gardens, Seaton Park, Victoria Park and Westburn Park are magnificent examples of these public floral extravaganzas.
In terms of architecture, Aberdeen has some decent landmarks and the Music Hall and National Bank of Scotland on Union Street are particularly noteworthy. The city can also boast the largest granite building in the world (after the Escorial in Madrid) with the extension to Marischal College on Broad Street in 1906 by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie.
These days, the lucrative oil industry is the city's biggest employer, but that is not to say technology and industry have blotted out culture and the arts. The Aberdeen Art Gallery houses wonderful Impressionist works and some great 20th century paintings. The music scene in Aberdeen is extremely lively too with Belmont Street as a centre for bars with live sessions, pubs with ceilidh music, jazz and rock. Aberdeen International Youth Festival is one of the biggest and most popular in the world and celebrates all youthful endeavours in the arts.
Obviously, the royal connection with Aberdeen is very strong as Balmoral Castle has been the Autumn home for the Royal Family since Queen Victoria's time. The centrepiece of Royal Deeside, Balmoral Castle (estd. 1854) and its estate is now open to visitors when the Royals are not in residence and the magnificent gardens and surroundings woods are a genuine national treasure.
Truly, Aberdeen is an intrinsically Scottish city with its narrow streets, romantic hideaways, lovely coastline and historic overtones; however, the modern Aberdeen is also vibrant, cutting edge and very welcoming. Perfect for a few days break, you will be bowled over. Go soon!
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