What The Dickins: A Tale Of Edinburgh City

6 Edinburgh Doors Open Day Buildings You Should Visit

Anatomical Museum

There is no shortage of beautiful architecturally, culturally and historically significant buildings in Edinburgh. On the annual Doors Open Day weekend in Edinburgh we get a chance to see what’s behind the gates and doors of many of these buildings that are off-bounds to the general public during the rest of the year or normally charge an entry fee. Some buildings open up only once in a lifetime! Scotland’s largest free annual architectural event takes place in September – and in Edinburgh on the 24th and 25th in 2016.

Since 1991 Doors Open Day has been organised by the Cockburn Association in Edinburgh and offers free tours, exhibitions, talks and activities that give us an insight into the history of around 120 buildings in Edinburgh and many more in the rest of Scotland as well. There are also lunchtime and evening talks in the week running up to the Doors Open Day weekend. Go to www.doorsopendays.org.uk to see a list of all buildings in Edinburgh, Scotland and the rest of the UK. Remember to use the tag #DOD2016 and #dodscot if you’re posting about this event on social media!

2016 marks the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design in Scotland, of which the year-long Festival of Architecture is a key part of, and we think attending Doors Open Day is a great way of celebrating architecture. Here are 6 of our favourite picks for Doors Open Day in 2016:

1. Anatomical Museum

Open: 24th September 10am-4pm

Opened in 1884, this museum is home to an impressive collection of historical and anatomical specimens that are still used by Anatomy students. The building itself, a mix of Scottish and Cinquecento Italian style has been described as an “ornament to the city”. The museum is housed within the Medical School on Teviot Place and normally open to the public on the last Saturday of the month. Be aware that this place is not for the faint-hearted!

2. General Register House & New Register House

Open: 24th September 10am-4pm

Designed by famous Scottish architect Robert Adam and opened to the public in 1789, the General Register House on Princes Street is one of the oldest custom built archive buildings still in use in the world. New Register House was built next door in 1858. The biggest attraction and largest surviving room designed by Robert Adam is the magnificent rotunda with a stunning domed roof – don’t miss it! While you’re there, make sure to visit a hidden gem in Edinburgh; the Archivist’s Garden. 

3. Georgian Antiques

Open: 24th September 10am-4pm

A new addition to Doors Open Day this year, Georgian Antiques offers the largest selection of antiques in Scotland arranged over 5 floors in the 50,000 square feet category B listed late Victorian red brick building. The building that’s in Leith was actually built as a whisky warehouse and retains most of its original features. (The whisky in question was Abbot’s Whisky.) A must-visit for any antiques and whisky lovers!

4. Mansfield Traquair Centre

Open: 24th September 10am-noon & 25th September 10am-noon

What used to be a Catholic Apostolic Church is now an exclusive use venue for weddings, parties and corporate events at the bottom of Broughton Street. (Not a bad venue for a wedding we can assure you!) This beautiful building was built in 1885 and features marvellous mural decorations painted by Phoebe Anna Traquair in 1890. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation (SCVO) is based in this building (lucky them) and this year you get to see their stunning offices that are usually closed to the public!

5. St Andrew’s House

Open: 24th September 10am-4pm & 25th September 10am-4pm

If you like Art Deco you have to visit this A-listed Art Deco-influenced building built in 1930. St Andrew’s House stands on the site of the former Calton Jail and is the headquarters building of the Scottish Government. If you stand on North Bridge Bridge you’ll have excellent views of the more irregular south facade. There will be guided 30-minute tours available on the day. Make sure you bring photographic ID and proof of address and remember that you’re not allowed to take photos inside!

6. Stewart’s Melville College

Open: 24th September 2pm-5pm

This very impressive building opened in 1855 as Daniel Stewart’s Hospital for 50 destitute boys, but was turned into a fee paying day school in 1870 and renamed Daniel Stewart’s College. The architect behind the magnificent hospital was David Rhind – whose work also includes the former Commercial Bank of Scotland known as The Dome bar and restaurant today. They don’t build hospitals like this anymore!

More interesting buildings to visit

Other great picks this year include Merchant’s Hall, Custom House Leith (new), Lothian Buses Central Depot, Royal Observatory, Dovecote Studios and St Bernard’s Mineral Well. What buildings will you go and see this year? Comment below to let us know if you have any good tips!

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