ABOUT ABERDEEN AND NORTH EAST SCOTLAND.
On this page you will find information:
- About & Explore Aberdeen
- Places to visit near Aberdeen: Royal Deeside, Whisky Trail, Castle trail
- And some additional Links to Local websites.
- About Aberdeen
Aberdeen is located in North East Scotland and is the country’s third largest city. It is an ancient settlement and people have lived in the area for over 8000 years.
Around 220,000 people now inhabit Aberdeen and enjoy its dramatic granite architecture that glistens on the many sunny days (Aberdeen has more sunshine than Birmingham and almost as much as London). In mid to late June it never gets really dark, with the sun setting after ten pm and rising at around 4am. Golf is played until 11pm by many.
The city is set between the Rivers Dee and Don, both of which provide for wonderful walks and scenery. The modern name Aberdeen literally means between the Dee and Don.
On the coast, Aberdeen has a long, spectacular walk on a beach between the two rivers which turns into high sand dunes north of the Don stretching as far as Fraserburgh; to the south of the Dee are steep rocky cliff faces and deep inlets making for spectacular scenery and good rock-climbing. It is one of Britain’s most spectacular coasts.
The earliest charter for the city was granted by William the Lion in 1179. In 1319, the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce transformed Aberdeen into a property-owning and financially independent community and formed the basis for the city’s Common Good Fund which still benefits Aberdonians. History oozes from the buildings.
Traditionally, Aberdeen was home to fishing, textile mills, shipbuilding and paper making. These industries have been largely replaced but their impact on the city is still obvious.
Aberdeen as a city originally began as two separate burghs: Old Aberdeen at the mouth of the River Don; and New Aberdeen, a fishing and trading settlement where the Denburn entered the Dee estuary.
Moving forward to the 21st Century and since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970’s, the city has flourished in many different industries, including fishing and information technologies and is now officially the Oil Capital of Europe. The city’s two universities, the University of Aberdeen and The Robert Gordon University, both have an extensive range of world-class facilities available to students, making Aberdeen the educational centre of the north of Scotland
In modern times, Aberdeen has driven the north east to the very top of the UK’s economic growth tables with high technology developments in the electronics design and development industry, food, life sciences and, obviously, the oil industry, powering an economic boom.
Aberdeen has won Britain in Bloom more than any other city, has Britain’s oldest business, the harbour, which is one of the UK’s busiest, the oldest city archive, fabulous parks, dolphins, boutique hotels and trendy bars.
With 30 golf courses within 30 minutes of the city, the whisky and castle trails and fabulous walking and nature all around, Aberdeen is a perfect weekend city break venue.
A few things you might not know about Aberdeen:
- The Aberdeen Press and Journal is the world’s second oldest surviving newspaper, pipped to the post for the world title by the Belfast News Letter of 1737.
- Sir David Gill, who took the first photograph of the moon in 1868, was born in Aberdeen.
- 640,000 cubic feet of Aberdeen granite went into the construction of the Forth Rail Bridge.
- Aberdeen International Airport is the gateway to Europe’s energy capital, serving more than three million travellers a year. It is the world’s busiest commercial heliport, transporting more than 500,000 passengers in support of the North Sea oil and gas industry.
- There are over 30 places named Aberdeen throughout the world!
- Slains Castle at Cruden Bay is said to have inspired Bram Stoker in writing Dracula.
- Aberdeen City and Shire has over 52 golf clubs, one for every week of the year.
Explore Aberdeen all year round…
Shopping, Theatre and Galleries
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Situated on the historic Shiprow and incorporating Provost Ross’s House – built in 1593 – Aberdeen Maritime Museum tells the story of the city’s long relationship with the Sea. This award-winning museum houses a unique collection covering shipbuilding, fast sailing ships, fishing and port history, and is the only place in the UK where you can see displays on the North Sea oil industry. Aberdeen Maritime Museum also offers a spectacular viewpoint over the busy harbour. Aberdeen Maritime Museum is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities, and an induction loop system is available in the auditorium. click here for more info
Located at the top of Union Street, the Castlegate encompasses Castle Street on the south side and Justice Street on the north side. Until the council pedestrianised the area in the 1980’s traffic was able to circumnavigate the Mercat Cross or continue from Union Street onto Justice Street and beyond.
In years gone by the Castlegate was an open market-place, at the foot of the hill on which the old castle stood (the site of the castle is now occupied by blocks of flats), and in recent years it has again been used for that purpose. The photograph above shows a view of the north side of the Castlegate, and is occupied by restaurants, a bar, printmakers and other shops. The Mercat Cross can be just be seen on the right hand side of the image.
Aberdeen’s original town centre had been in the Green, a little way to the south west, but as the burgh grew the administrative and commercial centre moved to the Castlegate. Click here for more info
Aberdeen Harbour is a world class port annually handling around 5 million tonnes of cargo, valued at approximately £1.5 billion, for a wide range of industries.
With versatile facilities, competitive charges and diversity of traffic, it serves Scotland’s third city and an extensive hinterland. Centre of activity for the offshore oil and gas industry’s marine support operations in North-west Europe. Click here for more info
King’s was founded in 1495 by Bishop William Elphinstone under a papal Bull from Pope Alexander IV. It was Scotland’s third university and can boast having the earliest endowed Chair of Medicine in Great Britain, being founded by King James IV of Scotland (the university is still a world famous medical teaching centre half a milenium later).
Before any building work could begin, the marshy area had to be cleared and vast oak rafts sunk to secure the building’s foundations, then, according to a latin inscription, work on Kings College Chapel began on the 2 April 1500. It took six years to complete the sandstone chapel, the master mason being either Alexander Gray or John Gray… Click here for more info
His Majesty’s Theatre
When the original proprietor of His Majesty’s, Robert Arthur, stood on the stage of the theatre on 3 December 1906 and proudly welcomed the first customers to the opening show one wonders if he ever thought that his creation would still be packing in the crowds one hundred years later. In 2006 we expect over 250,000 people to attend performances at HMT proving it is still the place to go to enjoy the performing arts in the North of Scotland. Over the last hundred years HMT has undergone three major redevelopments in 1933, 1982 and 2005. On each occasion the aim has been to ensure the theatre has up to date facilities for customers and performers. This love and attention has ensured HMT remains one of the most beautiful and well maintained theatres in the UK and that this iconic building remains one of the best known and best loved buildings in Aberdeen. It is also recognised as the favourite theatre by companies touring performances around the UK. We all hope that the most recent redevelopment will sustain the theatre well into its second century and will widen its activities and appeal still further…. Click here for more info
In the centre of Aberdeen, the Museum lies in the University of Aberdeen’s Marischal College, the second-largest granite structure in the world. The museum was founded in 1786, with material that has been donated by generations of friends and graduates of the University. This has resulted in collections of high quality material, most notably Egyptian and Classical antiquities, non-Western ethnography, Scottish prehistory and numismatics, that rank alongside the largest in Scotland. Today, the care of these collections is enhanced by a purpose-built conservation laboratory.
The museum has an excellent track record of ensuring that its collection is used to inspire and educate a wide range of visitors through innovative exhibitions, evening lectures, an award-winning schools service, a young archaeologists club, resources for higher education and support for researchers.
Marischal Museum is one of the University’s eight museum collections of national and international importance. To view these collections, look here.
Marischal Museum is also part of Aberdeen’s Treasures, an exciting mix of Aberdeen’s independent tourist attractions. Click here for more info
The River Dee
The River Dee rises at 4000ft on the plateau of Braeriach, the highest source of any major river in the British Isles. Water emerges in a number of pools like the one in the picture below and flows across the plateau to the cliff edge, then plunges into An Garbh Choire. The young Dee joins a tributary from the Pools of Dee in the Lairig Ghru and passes between Ben Macdui and Cairn Toul. The river flows over falls in the Chest of Dee on its way to White Bridge, the confluence of the Geldie Burn.
At Linn of Dee the river passes through a 300m natural rock gorge. Between there and Braemar, Lui Water (formed by Luibeg and Derry Burns) and Quoich Water join the growing River Dee. Clunie Water and Callater Burn join together and flow into the Dee at Braemar.
Through Royal Deeside, the river passes the settlements of Braemar, Ballater, Aboyne and Banchory. The Rivers Muick and Gairn join the Dee at Ballater. The Water of Tanar flows through Glen Tanar before joining the Dee at Aboyne. The Water of Feugh joins the River Dee at Banchory.
Before reaching the North Sea, the River Dee passes through Aberdeen harbour. An artificial channel was constructed in 1872 to improve the harbour, which is the largest marine centre in Europe servicing the offshore oil and gas industry.
The Dee is important for nature conservation and the area has many designated sites. The upper catchment is within the Cairngorms National Nature Reserve and (since 2003) Cairngorms National Park. Much of the semi-natural Caledonian pine woods in Scotland are within the Dee catchment. The area contains nationally rare examples of pinewoods, birchwoods and heather moors with associated wildlife. On the valley floor there are alderwoods, mixed broadleaved woods, and meadow grasslands. Otter, Water Vole and freshwater mussel are among the animal species under threat. The Dee is a popular salmon river, having a succession of varied pools, intersected by sharp rapids.
Provost Skene’s House
The house is named after Provost George Skene, a wealthy merchant who lived there in the 17th century, a time when Aberdeen was emerging as a flourishing trading port. Provost Skene’s House is now an attractive period museum with elegantly furnished rooms from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Don’t miss the costume gallery with its monthly exhibitions of fashion through the ages, or the temporary exhibitions of Aberdeens social history in the attic.
Truly a jewel in the heart of the city, there is something for everyone at Provost Skene’s House. Click here for more info
MyAberdeen App – Download FREE the MyAberdeen app, the official app for Aberdeen
Home to the Braemar Highland Games and regular holiday destination to the Royal family, Royal Deeside has so much to offer visitors to Aberdeen and surrounding area.
In one of the many entries in her journals on Royal Deeside, Queen Victoria surely spoke for future generations of visitors when she wrote: “Every year my heart becomes more fixed on this dear paradise.”
Successive monarchs have spent their annual summer holidays here so you’ll be in good company exploring lush moorland, shady pine forests, crystal clear rivers and imposing mountains including Queen Victoria’s favourite Munro, Lochnagar (3789ft) which she called the “jewel of all mountains”. Her ancestors still keep her tradition of patronage of the Braemar Gathering annually on the first Saturday of September.
Follow, literally, in Royal footsteps by travelling along the Victorian Heritage Trail which will take you through charmingly individual little towns including Banchory, Aboyne, Ballater and Baemar as well as landmarks, beauty spots and attractions with a special connection to Queen Victoria who first made her beloved Balmoral Castle her Scottish home in 1856.
For more details visit www.discoverroyaldeeside.com
The Malt Whisky Trail http://www.maltwhiskytrail.com/
Discover Scotland’s renowned Malt Whisky Trail, the only trail of its kind in the world, through one of the country’s best-known whisky regions, Speyside. Discover the secrets behind the art of whisky creation with behind-the-scenes tours of the country’s renowned distilleries.
Basing yourself in the city of Aberdeen discover the Scotland’s only dedicated Castle Trail which lets you enjoy the dramatic stories of 17 of Aberdeenshire’s most famous castles.
Aberdeen Internet’s Tourist Information Guide to Aberdeen & North East Scotland
Tourist Information on Aberdeen and Grampian Highlands
Aberdeen City Council – What’s on in the city
The Balmoral Castle