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Old City Observatory

Door open days


The New Observatory was built to the plan of WH Playfair between 1818 and 1822 to be a Scientific Observatory and is the earliest of Playfair’s many Edinburgh masterpieces. Modeled on the Temple of the Four Winds in Athens, it
blends with the nearby Classical Architecture.

The building was the Royal Observatory throughout the 18th century and some of the original instruments and time pieces can still be viewed in their historic setting.

Key Information

Architect: W H Playfair

Building Date: 1818/1822

Access by guided tour only (lasting approximately 30mins), which must be booked in advance. 

Guided tour only which must be booked by emailing

Image (c)

Where to find us

  • Calton Hill
  • Edinburgh
  • EH7 5AA