Victoria Street-The Grande Dame of Edinburgh’s Old Town

I have a girl crush.  Her name is Victoria.

Colorful storefronts on Victoria Street.

I mean, how was I not to fall for her?  She is everything that makes me happy.  She’s sophisticated, unpretentious, cheerful, elegant, vibrant, charming, and just the sight of her causes my heart to beat a little faster.  Simply put, she’s beautiful!  I think it might be love. Okay, okay, I’m just being silly.  A girl can have a little fun on a Friday morning, right? 

Victoria Street, formerly called Bow Street until Queen Victoria took the British throne in 1837, was built during the early 19th century as part of Thomas Hamilton’s Improvement Act of 1827. The planned improvements were designed to transform the original road from a steep, narrow, Z-shaped street into a route that would provide much easier passage into the rest of the city. The redesign was particularly necessary for the carriages that had a challenging time managing the awkward hill.

A close up of the buildings on Victoria Street.

This radical alteration in design meant that, sadly, most of the original medieval structures were lost forever. Most of what we see today is the result of 19th-century development. A few of the original buildings are still there, particularly at the foot of the curve where Victoria Street meets the Grassmarket.

Where Victoria Street meets the Grassmarket.
Where Grassmarket and Victoria Street meet.

I read somewhere that Victoria Street was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I can see how some might think that. The narrow, curved, cobbled street, the stony upper buildings and terraces, and the brightly painted storefronts do seem to bear a striking resemblance to the one in Harry’s world. It’s certainly an interesting notion.

Historic buildings on Victoria Street.

Victoria Street is arguably one of the prettiest and most photographed streets in Edinburgh. It is where new meets old in an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and pubs all set within this preserved picture of the past.

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