Edinburgh’s 10 sister cities explained

Xi'an in China is Edinburgh's largest sister city, with a population of over 8.7 million people. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
Xi'an in China is Edinburgh's largest sister city, with a population of over 8.7 million people. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
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EDINBURGH has official international links with 10 different cities across the globe, but how many of these civic partnerships were you aware of?

Helping to promote tourism, commerce and cultural links between the cities, Edinburgh’s twin cities can be found everywhere from Denmark to China.

Dorothy Walker, Miss Edinburgh, wearing a t-shirt to celebrate 25 years of Edinburgh being twinned with Munich in April 1979. Picture: TSPL

Dorothy Walker, Miss Edinburgh, wearing a t-shirt to celebrate 25 years of Edinburgh being twinned with Munich in April 1979. Picture: TSPL

1. Munich, Germany

Having been twinned with Auld Reekie since 1954, Munich is our oldest city partnership. Perhaps best known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration, Munich is also a major centre of art, technology, culture and education in Germany.

The architecture here is an interesting mix of old and new, much like Edinburgh’s. Unlike many other German cities which were bombed during World War Two, Munich remained relatively unscathed and managed to rebuild much of its traditional cityscape after the war.

2. Nice, France

Nice on the C�te d'Azur became twinned with Edinburgh in 1958. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Nice on the C�te d'Azur became twinned with Edinburgh in 1958. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Twinned since 1958, Nice is located in the picturesque French Riviera. It is France’s fifth largest city and dates back to around 350 BC - although it didn’t officially become part of France until 1860.

Both Nice and Edinburgh are very popular with tourists and receive a similar number of visitors per year - currently four million for Nice and 4.4 million for Edinburgh.

3. Florence, Italy

The historic city of Florence (known for its fashion, culture, art and tourism) became twinned with the Scottish capital in 1964 and the two cities have several similarities.

Dunedin City Pipe Band in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian MacNicol

Dunedin City Pipe Band in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian MacNicol

Just like Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, the historic centre of Florence has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Because it is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, the Italian city has the nickname ‘the Athens of the Middle Ages’, which might sound familiar - Edinburgh is known as ‘the Athens of the North’ thanks to the Enlightenment.

4. Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin (which is named after Edinburgh using the Gaelic spelling) was settled by Scots in the 1840s and the construction of the city was based on the design of Edinburgh’s New Town. Many of the streets even have the same names as their Scottish counterparts.

Statue of Greyfriars Bobby in San Diego. Picture: David McCann

Statue of Greyfriars Bobby in San Diego. Picture: David McCann

Dunedin is home to Baldwin Street which is thought to be the steepest residential street in the world - it makes Edinburgh’s Old Town closes look like a walk in the park. Twinned since 1974, Dunedin and Edinburgh are also both UNESCO Cities of Literature.

5. Vancouver, Canada

Twinned since 1977, Vancouver is regularly named as one of the world’s top cities with the best quality of life, and in 2016 Edinburgh also made it into the top 50 list.

As well as being known for sports, industry, tourism and culture, Vancouver also famously has the nickname ‘Hollywood North’. It is one of the largest film production centres in North America and often stands in for US cities in films and TV shows.

6. San Diego, USA

One of America’s largest cities - with a population of 1.3 million people - San Diego became twinned with Edinburgh in 1977. Despite being very different sizes (and having very different climates) both cities have strong links with tourism thanks to the many museums, galleries, theatres and cultural hotspots.

San Diego even has its own statue of Greyfriars Bobby, which is situated in the Gaslamp Quarter next to a statue of stray dog Bum - San Diego’s answer to Bobby. You can also find a replica statue of Bum in West Princes Street Gardens by the King’s Stables Road entrance.

7. Xi’an, China

The biggest of Edinburgh’s twin cities, Xi’an in China, currently has a population of over 8.7 million people. Over the last few decades, the historic city of Xi’an has re-emerged as an important Chinese cultural, industrial, economic and educational centre.

Xi’an is the home of the famous Terracotta Army, and the twinning of the cities in 1985 coincided with a landmark exhibition of the warriors in the Scottish capital.

8. Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine and the seventh most populated city in Europe, twinned with Edinburgh in 1989. It is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe and it was an important political centre of the Soviet Union.

Since Ukraine gained independence in the 1990s, the city has flourished as a centre for tourism and culture. Kiev is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the impressive St Sophia Cathedral.

9. Aalborg, Denmark

In 1991 Edinburgh became twinned with the city of Aalborg in the north of Denmark. Although traditionally known as an industrial centre, Aalborg is now an important Danish educational and cultural hub, in part thanks to the founding of Aalborg University in 1974.

Just as Edinburgh has its International Festival and Fringe, Aalborg hosts its own significant cultural festival. Attracting over 100,000 visitors to one of the biggest annual events in Scandinavia, the week-long Aalborg Carnival includes various colourful parades and events.

10. Krakow, Poland

Krakow has been one of the leading centres of Polish cultural, academic and artistic life since the Middle Ages. Although technically a ‘partner city’ rather than a ‘twin city’, Edinburgh has had strong links with Krakow since 1995.

Like Edinburgh, Krakow is also a UNESCO City of Literature and their Old Town is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Polish city is twinned or partnered with 34 different cities across the world.