City Chambers

Old Town

The imposing Georgian City Chambers, home to the City of Edinburgh Council, were originally built by John Adam (brother of Robert) between 1753 and 1761 to serve as the Royal Exchange – a covered meeting place for city merchants – replacing the traditional meeting place of the Mercat Cross. However, the merchants preferred their old stamping ground in the street and the building became the offices of the city council in 1811.

Though only four storeys high on the Royal Mile side, the building plummets 12 storeys on the northern side, overlooking Cockburn St. The chambers were built over the sealed-off remains of three Old Town closes; the spooky remnants of these can be explored on a guided tour of the Real Mary King's Close.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Old Town attractions

1. Real Mary King's Close

0.02 MILES

Edinburgh's 18th-century City Chambers were built over the sealed-off remains of Mary King's Close, and the lower levels of this medieval Old Town alley…

2. Mercat Cross

0.02 MILES

Outside the eastern end of St Giles Cathedral stands the Mercat Cross, a 19th-century copy of the 1365 original, where merchants and traders met to…

3. St Giles Cathedral

0.05 MILES

The great grey bulk of St Giles Cathedral dates largely from the 15th century, but much of it was restored in the 19th century. One of the most…

4. Heart of Midlothian

0.06 MILES

Outside the western door of St Giles Cathedral is a cobblestone heart set into the paving that marks the site of the 15th-century Tolbooth. The Tolbooth…

5. Parliament Hall

0.08 MILES

This magnificent 17th-century hall, with original oak hammer-beam roof, is where the old Scottish parliament met before its dissolution in 1707. Now used…

6. City Art Centre

0.08 MILES

This art centre comprises six floors of exhibitions with a variety of themes, including an extensive collection of Scottish art. Fees apply for special…

7. Edinburgh Dungeon

0.08 MILES

This manufactured attraction combines gruesome tableaux of torture and degradation with live actors who perform scary little sketches along the way. There…

8. Tron Kirk

0.09 MILES

Built in 1637 and taking its name from the tron (public weighbridge) that once stood on the site, this church is famous for its magnificent oak hammer…