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by Astrid Samuelsberg

It’s no secret that Edinburgh is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in the world. With a wide range of modern and gothic architecture alike, the city has something to offer for everyone. Many of you have come to admire the Castle, Palace, cathedrals and even the controversial £414m Parliament building. However, as a backpacker, the entry fees quickly put a significant dent in your budget. Visiting Edinburgh Castle, for example, will cost you £18.50.

Open Doors at your favourite buildings

But the Cockburn Association – pronounced coh-burn by the way –  is here to help you save your wallet. Every year since 1991, Edinburgh opens its doors to the public in celebration of its architecture and heritage landmarks. This year, Doors Open Day runs on the 29th and 30th of September. So what can you expect? Well, it’s your chance to enter 120 of Edinburgh’s most culturally and architecturally significant buildings free of charge. Some buildings, like the National Library, also offer free behind-the-scenes tours. Additionally, Doors Open will give you access to buildings that are usually completely closed off to the public. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some of our top picks for this year Doors Open Day.

Leith Theatre

September 30th 14:00 to 17:00

The Leith Theatre was a gift from Edinburgh when the Burgh of Leith was incorporated into Edinburgh in 1920. The building opened in 1932 but tragically suffered from bomb damage in 1941. After its reconstruction, Leith Theatre hosted amazing gigs throughout the 60s and 70s, including Thin Lizzy and AC/DC. Unfortunately, the building has been unused since 1988, except for Hidden Doors festival and of course: Doors Open Day.

Glasshouses @ Edinburgh Royal Hospital

September 29th and 30th 11:00 to 16:00

The Glasshouses were originally built in the 1950s to breed plants for the hospital gardens. However, in 2011, Artlink began using the space to help patients recover through artistic and horticultural activities. Open Doors Day will also be your last chance to visit the Glasshouses as they will be dismantled in 2019. To make the most of your experience, check out their guided tours or take part in their exhibition. The Significant Spaces exhibition will allow you to take photos in the Travelling Darkroom which will commemorate the Glasshouses for life.

Advocates Library

September 29th 10:00 to 16:00

The Advocates Library building was designed by William Playfair as part of the Parliament House complex. As the name suggests, the building is usually a private library reserved for Scotland’s Faculty of Advocates. Now, visiting a private law library might sound boring for those of you who aren’t lawyers. But there’s more to this building than a historical collection of European legal books! In fact, the library’s law room was once a court used for the trial of the notorious medical murderers Burke and Hare.

Leith Walk Police Box

September 30th 14:00 to 16:00

Believe it or not, this funky little number was used as a police box in 1933. The Leith Walk Police Box is one of 85 unique police boxes designed by Ebenezer Macrae. Since failing its MOT in 2012, the Leith Walk Police Box is now used for POP UP events like the Tool Library and The Wee Museum. Just last week, the police box was used as a two-seater cinema for Take One Action Film Festival. For this year’s Doors Open Day, the police box will be ‘hosted’ by a retired police officer, so get ready for some wild stories.

… And the rest

Don’t miss out on some of our other top picks for this year’s Doors Open Day, such as:

  1. A live re-enactment of a court trial at Parliament House (September 29th 10:00 to 16:00)
  2. Meteorite handling and telescope workshops at The Royal Edinburgh Observatory (September 30th 10:00 to 17:00)
  3. Guided tour and talk at the Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre (September 30th 14:00 to 17:00)

There are many, many more things to see during Doors Open Day – check out the full list of buildings here.


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