Make a monumental discovery

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MILLIONS of visitors flock to Edinburgh every year to soak up the history that has secured the city’s reputation as one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

Today, though, is World Heritage Day, and the people who live here all year round are being encouraged to pay more attention to the iconic monuments that form the backdrop to their daily lives.

Some may only give these historic gems a fleeting glance, while others walk by without even noticing them.

But now a map has been issued so that they may be tempted to study their city through fresh eyes.

David Hicks, of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “If you live here you perhaps don’t pay it quite as much attention.

“One of the great purposes of World Heritage Day is to draw people’s attention to the fact that they have this truly exceptional heritage on their doorstep. The great joy of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site is that it covers all of the Old and New Town and some of the best sites are free.”

In 2007 a project was launched to conserve the city’s most celebrated monuments, and to further the idea that the loss of any one of them would leave the Capital’s instantly recognisable skyline impoverished.

The cost of the Twelve Monuments Project was £1.1 million – of this, £300,000 was raised in grants and donations, ranging from £10,000 from charitable trusts to £5 from ordinary Edinburgh residents.

The initiative between Edinburgh World Heritage and the city council was finished just last year. Some of the work was so delicate that it required the use of an endoscope, while one job needed a 30ft crane.

A council spokeswoman said: “The project owes much of its success to close working between the council and Edinburgh World Heritage but also to kind donations from the public.

“By restoring these monuments, we have also preserved the site for future generations. What better way to celebrate World Heritage Day than by learning about their amazing history?”