Nelson Monument

Best of Edinburgh Attractions

The Nelson Monument

The Nelson Monument
The Nelson Monument

Sitting on top of Calton Hill, the Nelson Monument commands some of the finest views over the City Edinburgh.

Look carefully - what does the monument remind you of? Well, its design is in fact based on the shape of a naval spyglass. As the name suggests, the monument pays tribute to Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, one of Britain's most inspiring and revered military figures.

Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson
(Copyright note - this image is reproduced from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, on the basis that that it is now in the public domain for the reasons stated on that website.)

Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, when British naval forces inflicted a decisive victory over a combined French and Spanish fleet in what was to be one of the most significant naval battles of the Napoleonic wars. Nelson was a national hero and was accorded the honour of a State Funeral.

Pathway leading up to the Neslon Monument
Pathway leading up to the Nelson Monument

Around Britain, numerous monuments exist in his memory, most notably Nelson's Monument at Trafalgar Square in London.

View along Princes Street from the Nelson Monument
View along Princes Street from the Nelson Monument

Work on the Monument began in 1807 and was completed eight years later in 1815. It stands 106 feet high and is 562 feet above sea level at its top. Inside the monument a spiral staircase winds 170 steps to the top where visitors must squeeze through a small door to gain access to the viewing area. Suffice to say that only those who are fit enough should attempt the climb. From the top the views are magnificent and well worth the effort.

Nelson Monument - top
Nelson Monument - Top

At precisely 1.00pm each day, just as the One O'Clock Gun is being fired from Edinburgh Castle, a mechanised time-ball drops from a pole at the top of the Monument. This historically allowed ships docked at Leith Harbour to set their chronometers as an aid to navigation. The dropping of the time ball and firing of the One O'Clock Gun used to be synchronised electronically thanks to a huge length of telegraph wire connecting the two. However, this was removed in the 1930's. Following strong winds the time ball was put out of action in March 2007. However thanks to a lottery grant of £50,000 repairs were carried out and the time ball has been back in action since September 2009.

The admission charge to the monument, which is looked after by the City of Edinburgh Council, is currently £4.00 for adults and children. There are no concessions.

Opening hours are:-

1April to 30 September

Monday to Saturday 10am to 7pm

Sunday 12 noon until 5pm

1 October to 31 March

Monday to Saturday 10 am to 3pm