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Case Studies 

The Royal Mile



Contributed by 
Project for Public Spaces
January 7, 2002
December 14, 2017

Leading up to Edinburgh Castle, this mile-long cobblestone road is surrounded by mazes of alleys.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Although open to vehicular traffic, the Mile is predominantly used by pedestrians. The limited availability of on-street parking in and around the Mile also encourages locals and visitors to experience the city by foot. This heavy foot traffic encourages artists from all over the world to congregate on the street, using the space as their stage. The bustling activity of the street peaks in August when thousands of artists take to the street to perform and entertain all day and night as part of the Fringe festival. Because of its central location, popularity, and visibility, the street has also been a platform for social and political demonstrations on issues such as national independence. Fortunately, for locals looking to escape the flocks of people on the main thoroughfare, the Mile provides the perfect hiding spots in its quiet courtyards and squares. The Royal Mile has truly evolved over the centuries from being a link between places to a destination in its own right.

Access & Linkages

Comfort & Image

Uses & Activities


How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Famously known as the site of the largest outdoor arts festival in the world, Edinburgh Fringe, the Royal Mile was once the only public space in the city aside from the farmers market at the Castle. Before the construction of the Georgian-style New Town area in the 18th century, the street traversed almost the whole of Edinburgh. During that time, everyone lived compactly on the Mile and its adjoining alleys. The five sections that make up the street are, from west to east: Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand. Together, these areas create a seamless path between two of the city’s greatest attractions - Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. No longer primarily residential, the street features a multitude of historic and commercial attractions like the Royal Museum of Scotland and St. Giles Cathedral. Each year, these landmarks bring millions of tourists to the cultural and physical center of Edinburgh.

Related Links & Sources

Image credits, from left: Jim Nix via Flickr, Martie Stewart via Flickr, Pavlo Boyko via Flickr, Daniel via Flickr, byronv2 via Flickr, ddh Photos via Flickr

Website: www.royal-mile.com

The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


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