Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Aberdeen, Scotland
Aberdeen, "The Flower of Scotland", lies in a picturesque spot on the North Sea coast between the Dee and the Don. The capital of the Grampian Region is Scotland's biggest fishing port and has, since the end of the 1960s when oil was first discovered in the North Sea, developed into an important center for Europe's offshore oil industry. Even in the early days of the oil boom Aberdeen was an obvious choice as offshore capital of Europe, not just because of its proximity to the oil fields in the North Sea, but also for its central position on the eastern coastal plain, its infrastructure with good road and rail links and also its plentiful supply of labor.
Aberdeen, Scotland's third-biggest city, whose name derives from the juxtaposition of "aber" meaning "mouth" and the combination of Dee and Don, has a rich cultural tradition plus modern facilities and a range of industries. The port is an important commercial and shopping center with many sights of interest and a number of well-tended parks and gardens. Visitors will find some 2mi/3km of sandy beach, the Beach Leisure Center swimming pool with wave machine, superb golf courses, performances of ballet, plays and opera in His Majesty's Theater, concerts by top-class orchestras in the Music Hall, experimental drama productions in the Arts Center and Theater as well as a variety of arts festivals during the summer months. The silver-gray granite from nearby quarries gives the city a distinctive character, although the last quarry in Rubislaw was closed in 1971. St Machar's, the oldest granite cathedral in the world, was built with stone from Rubislaw. When the sun shines, the mica in the granite sparkles, hence "Silver City" has become a popular description for Aberdeen. "Flower City" refers to the splendid flower beds and displays, which have repeatedly brought the city success in the "Britain in Bloom" competitions.
The exact date when the city was founded is not clear, but it is known that St Machar established a Celtic chapel here in the sixth century, that Alexander I made Aberdeen his main residence in the 11th century and in a charter of 1179 William "the Lion" granted the burghers the rights of a "free hanse". The famous bridge over the Don to the east of the "crook" in the river was started in 1285 but this crossing point which spans the river with a steep Gothic arch was not finished until 1320. After the Aberdonians supported Robert the Bruce in the War of Independence at the beginning of the 14th century, they received as a reward hunting land and a coat-of-arms with the motto "Bon Accord". During the industrial revolution, Aberdeen saw the construction of textile factories and paper mills and the clippers from the Footdee wharf came to be regarded as the fastest sailing ships of their time. Steam-driven fishing boats gave the fishing industry a new impetus and large fleets of trawlers based in Aberdeen went in search of herring, cod and haddock. Two town planners by the name of Archibald Simpson and John Smith created the now unmistakable character of the ambitious "Granite City", constructing administrative buildings and housing around Union Street from the local granite. But 1969 was perhaps the most important year in Aberdeen's history when "Montrose Field", the first British oil field, was opened. By 1995, almost 50 oil and gas fields were in production and this brought a massive boom to the local economy as many oil and gas-related companies moved to Aberdeen to supply and maintain the North Sea oil platforms.The area north of King's College is known as Old Aberdeen and includes the University, founded in 1494. Several interesting medieval buildings are found in the vicinity of the High Street, most being situated between the Old Town and St Machar's.Up until the last century, medieval Old Aberdeen in the area around St Machar's Cathedral had its own market charter. Today it has a host of protected buildings, the oldest of which dates from the 16th century and the quarter has become a popular meeting place for students who frequent the pubs and restaurants near the university.Ferries to the Orkney and Shetland Islands leave regularly from Jamieson's Quay.