Month published: May 2013

 
 

Why not visit…Aberdeen?

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Why not visit…Aberdeen?

Aberdeen may not immediately spring to mind when considering places to visit in the UK. Located in the North-East of Scotland it is a rather remote, cold and rainy city. The journey from London takes about 8 hours by train and 12 hours by coach. Nevertheless it is a place with a rich history (Lord Byron was raised in Aberdeen, don’t you know!) and with its own unique charm that is well worth visiting. In this article I will attempt to explain why.

The city began as a fishing and trading settlement and was actually under English rule during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Aberdeen experienced an economic boom in the last 30 years after the discovery of oil deposits in the North Sea. Nowadays Aberdeen is considered to be the centre of Europe’s petroleum industry, however many experts believe that the North Sea’s oil reserves are staring to decline and thus the city is attempting to rebrand itself as the Energy Capital of Europe, introducing extensive renewable energy research projects.

Aberdeen is known as the Granite City because of the fact that a great majority of its buildings are made of locally sourced grey granite. Another nickname, preferred by the city’s tourist board, is the Silver City, due to the way the often wet granite glistens in the sun. Unfortunately the sun is not a common occurrence and therefore this phenomenon is a fairly rare one. The gloomy weather compliments the city centre’s prevalent Gothic Revival architecture, which includes numerous churches and Marischal College which resembles an enormous cathedral. Despite the city’s grim appearance its residents maintain a surprisingly cheerful demeanour. Aberdeen is actually the third most populated city in Scotland and has two universities: The University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University. Any tourist trail round the city should encompass the University of Aberdeen’s beautiful campus, from the medieval looking King’s College and Elphinstone Hall to the university’s brand new Sir Duncan Rice Library, a technical marvel which resembles an enormous glass cube that can be seen from many points in the city. It’s kind of like Aberdeen’s very own Shard!

One of the great things about Aberdeen is that it’s small enough to to retain the charm of a small town but large enough to contain enough bars, clubs, restaurants and theatres to cater to any and all tastes. The centre of the city’s nightlife is Belmont Street, a quaint pedestrianised road populated with places such as Books ‘n’ Beans – a literature themed coffeehouse, Slains Castle – a Dracula themed pub located within a towering old church, and Cafe Drummond – a bar and music venue that specialises in showcasing local alternative music. Head down the road and you will find Snafu, Scotland’s premier electronic music venue that has consistently featured in the World’s top 100 clubs short lists.

The city’s coastline is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. It features sandy beaches that stretches along the entire length of Aberdeen’s east side and then continues into the neighbouring countryside. The beach features a promenade with everything from crazy golf to Pizza Hut so if your children are getting restless you know where to go. The surrounding countryside is truly exquisite and there are numerous castles that are in close proximity to the city. Dunnottar Castle is particularly striking as it is perched on top of a giant conglomerate overlooking the North Sea.

If you are looking to experience an authentic taste of Scotland, or simply want to visit a place off the beaten track then Aberdeen is a great choice. It may be rather far away, and not the most sun-drenched place on earth but it is a place that is steeped in history and beautiful in its own way. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

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