Edinburgh Stirling Train
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The city of Edinburgh is located in Lothian on the southern shore of the Firth or Forth and is Scotland's capital city. It has been regarded as Scotland's capital since at least the 15th century but political power moved south to London after the Union of the Crowns in 1603 and the Union of Parliaments in 1707. Edinburgh has a rich history and as a consequence has many historic buildings including Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Place, the churches of St. Giles, Greyfriars and Canongate.
The historic centre of Edinburgh is divided in two by Princes Street Gardens. To the south the view is dominated by Edinburgh Castle which is built high on the castle rock, and the long sweep of the Old Town descending towards Holyrood Palace. To the north lie Princes Street and the New Town. Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The city is home to many national institutions including the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. In terms of trade and commerce Edinburgh has long been a centre of banking and insurance and is now the United Kingdom's second largest financial centre after London.
The Scottish city of Stirling is the largest city on central Scotland and is build around the fortress of Stirling Castle. The castle sits on top of Castle Hill and is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs. Several Scottish monarchs have been crowned at Stirling Castle including Mary Queen of Scots in 1542. The castle is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is now a popular visitor attraction which is managed by Historic Scotland.
The Top of the Town is made up of Broad Street, Castle Wynd, Ballengeich Pass, Lower Castle Hill Road, Baker Street and St Mary's Wynd which all lead up to the castle. This area is popular with visitors who also visit the Old Town Jail, Mar's Wark (a ruined building dating back to the 16th century), Argyll's Loding and the castle itself. Ballengeich Pass leads to the graveyard at Ballengeich and the Castle Wynd winds past the old graveyard. Craft shops and tourist-focused shops are evident on the way up and once at the top, panoramic views are available across Stirling and beyond.
Stirling is a major centre of sports training and education in Scotland. The headquarters of the Scottish Institute of Sport is a purpose-built facility on the campus of Stirling University, which opened in 2002. Also at the university is the Scottish National Swimming Academy, as well as the Gannochy National Tennis centre, which is seen as a tennis centre of excellence.