Aberdeen (The Granite City) is Scotland’s third largest city. Aberdeen
is the chief commercial centre and seaport in the north-east of
Scotland. It boasts the title of Oil Capital of Europe thanks to the
plentiful supply of crude oil in the North Sea, and stands on a bay of
the North Sea, between the mouths of the rivers Don and Dee.
Aberdeen grew up as two separate burghs – Old Aberdeen at the mouth of
the Don and New Aberdeen, a fishing and trading settlement where the
Denburn entered the Dee estuary. The earliest charter was granted by
King William the Lion about 1179, confirming the corporate rights
granted by David I. The city received other royal charters later. In
1319, the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce transformed Aberdeen into a
property owning and financially independent community. The city was
burned by Edward III of England in 1336, but was soon rebuilt and
extended, and called New Aberdeen.
For many centuries the city was
subject to attacks by the neighbouring lords, and was strongly
fortified, but the gates were all removed by 1770. In the 18th century
a new Town Hall was built, elegantly furnished with a marble fireplace
from Holland and a set of fine crystal chandeliers and sconces. The
19th century was a time of considerable expansion. By 1901 the
population was 153,000 and the city covered more than 6,000 acres (24
km²). In the late 18th century, the council embarked on a scheme
of road improvements, and by 1805 George Street, King Street and Union
Street were open, the latter a feat of extraordinary engineering skill
involving the partial levelling of St Catherine’s Hill and the building
of arches to carry the street over Putachieside. The increasing
economic importance of Aberdeen and the development of the shipbuilding
and fishing industries brought a need for improved harbour facilities.
During this century much of the harbour as it exists today was built
including Victoria Dock, the South Breakwater and the extension to the
Places of interest
The main places of interest for the tourists in Aberdeen are the
museums, art galleries and the Scotland’s castle trails. Here is a list
of interesting places in Aberdeen:
Museums and Art Galleries
The city is blessed with amenities which cover a wide range of cultural
activities and boasts a selection of museums. The Aberdeen Art Gallery
houses a collection of Impressionist, Victorian, Scottish and 20th
Century British paintings as well as collections of silver and glass.
It also includes The Alexander Macdonald Bequest, a collection of late
19th century works donated by the museum’s first benefactor and a
constantly changing collection of contemporary work and regular
visiting exhibitions. Some of the other Aberdeen’s museums and art
fine granite theatre which provides a home for popular entertainments.
The main shopping districts center on specialty shops on Chapel and
Thistle streets and the well-known chains on George and Union streets.
Of interest to collectors, Colin Wood, stocks furniture, wall clocks,
and grandfather clocks from the 17th to the early 20th centuries.
Someone may also want to browse through the eclectic mix of bric-a-brac
antiques at Elizabeth Watts Studio, where items include glass, brass,
antique jewelry, china, silver, and a few small furniture pieces. For
one-stop gift shopping, drop in at Nova, which stocks china, silver
jewelry, rugs, clothing, toys, cards, and gift paper.
Other interesting shops are Grandad’s Attic, which specializes in Art
Deco ceramics and antique pine furniture; Just Scottish, retailers of
quality items — all made in Scotland, including ceramics, knitwear,
textiles, silver, and jewelry; and Alex Scott & Co. the town’s
Food and Drinks
Although Aberdeen is a well renowned city, it does not have many
restaurants in offer. Mainly all the restaurants and bars offer
continental or British/Irish/Scottish cuisine. Some of the famous
places for wine and dine are:
The first of Aberdeen’s two universities, the University of Aberdeen,
was founded in 1495 by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen and
Chancellor of Scotland. The University of Aberdeen is Scotland’s third
oldest, and the UK’s fifth oldest University.
Robert Gordon’s College (originally Robert Gordon’s Hospital) was
founded in and in the 1990s became co-educational and a day-only
school. It also produced the Robert Gordon Institute of Technology,
which became The Robert Gordon University in 1992.
Gray’s School of Art, founded in 1886, is one of the oldest established
colleges of art in the UK. Aberdeen College has several campuses in
Aberdeen and offers a wide variety of part-time and full-time courses
leading to several different qualifications. Northern College was a
teacher training college with campuses in Aberdeen and Dundee. In 2000,
the Aberdeen campus of Northern College became the University of
Aberdeen School of Education. Aberdeen Grammar School, (now
comprehensive, despite its name) founded in 1263 and one of the oldest
schools in Britain.
Aberdeen Football Club was founded in 1903. Its major success was
winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983 and three League
Championships between 1980 and 1986. The club’s stadium is Pittodrie
which holds the distinction of being Britain’s first all-seater
stadium. Aberdeen F.C. holds the distinction of being the last team to
have won the Scottish Premier League Championship outside the Old Firm
and is the only Scottish team to have won two European trophies adding
to their European Cup Winners Cup success by winning the European Super
Cup also in 1983. Well known footballers who have played for the club
include Gordon Strachan (Current Celtic manager), Alex McLeish (Current
Rangers manager) and club legend Willie Miller. Denis Law, the joint
top scorer for the Scotland national team was also born in the city,
but spent his professional career playing for English and Italian clubs.
Aberdeen Golf Club was founded in 1815. It has two 18-hole courses at
Balgownie, north of the River Don. There are other golf courses at
Auchmill, Balnagask, Hazlehead and King’s Links.
Tours and Sightseeing
The Aberdeen Tourist Information Centre, where the staff can usually
find just the right way to visit Aberdeen. Some other organized tours
and travel agencies are there in the city. These tours are organized by
the operators and vary from its contents, theme and price. The tours
mainly feature the museums, art galleries, Scottish Castles etc.
Hotels and Accommodations
Because of increasing numbers of tourists and business travelers to the
Granite City — Europe’s offshore oil capital and less number of hotels
compare with tourists — hotels are likely to be heavily booked any
time of year. So reservation in advance is a must before stepping to
the city. Some of the Hotels in Aberdeen (ranging from Affordable to
Luxury) are listed below:
Holiday Inn Aberdeen
There are four main roads serving the city: A90, A96, A93, A92, A90 now
used as a tourist route.
The city’s original ring road, Anderson Drive, which was built in the
1930s has long since been engulfed by the expansion of the city, and is
inadequate for dealing with today’s traffic. To this end, a new main
bypass road, the Western Peripheral Route, is planned to divert through
traffic away from the city centre. The road is due to open in 2010.
The city is well served by the national railway network. Aberdeen has
regular rail services to Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as long distance
trains to London via Edinburgh. It is possible to take the longest
scheduled rail journey in the whole of the UK from Aberdeen. Regular
trains also run north westerly towards Inverness and north to Dyce for
Aberdeen also has an airport in the neighbouring town of Dyce, which is
operated by BAA plc. As well as connecting the city to the rest of the
UK, Aberdeen Airport (sometimes refererred to as Dyce Airport) is the
largest helicopter terminal in the world, serving the many North Sea
oil installations. The IATA airport code for the airport is ABZ.