The third largest city in Scotland, Aberdeen lies 150 miles (241 km) north of Edinburgh, for the most part occupying land between the mouths of the River Dee and the River Don which flow eastwards into the North Sea from the Grampian Highlands. Founded in the 7th or 8th Century, the seaport of Aberdeen is known as 'the granite city', a name that reflects its handsome grey granite architecture. Since the 1970s its proximity to the North Sea oil and gas fields has also earned it the title of Scotland's 'oil capital'. Also known as the 'Flower of Scotland', Aberdeen has long been famous for its outstanding parks, gardens and floral displays that include 2 million roses, 11 million daffodils and 3 million crocuses.
The city developed as two separate burghs - Old Aberdeen, near the mouth of the River Don, and New Aberdeen, between the mouths of the Den Burn and the River Dee. The name Aberdeen probably derives from Aberdon - 'the mouth of the Don', but equally could relate to Aberden, 'the mouth of the Den'.
In Old Aberdeen, St Machar's Cathedral, former seat of the Bishops of Aberdeen, was completed in the early 16th century and nearby are King's College Chapel and the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens established in 1898. In the centre of New Aberdeen are several buildings of interest including Aberdeen Art Gallery; the Music Hall (1822); James Dun's House (18th Century); Provost Skene's House, built in the 16th century and the city's oldest surviving building; Tolbooth Museum, built between 1616 and 1629 as a prison; the Gordon Highlanders Regimental Museum; and Provost Ross's House (1593).
Today Aberdeen is a centre of administration, education and industry with a seaport trade and ferry links to the Northern Isles, Scandinavia and the Continent. The city has two universities; the University of Aberdeen, founded in 1492 and based in Old Aberdeen, and Robert Gordon University (1992) with its administration at Schoolhill and main campus at Garthdee. Aberdeen is also a coastal resort with a two-mile-long beach, a Beach Leisure Centre, a golf complex on the King's Links and Pittodrie Stadium, the home of Aberdeen Football Club. Throughout the year the city hosts a number of festivals including a Winter Festival and an International Youth Festival. Aberdeen Harbour is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's oldest business (1136), and the city is also home to the world's oldest transport company, the Shore Porters' Society, founded in 1498, together with one of Britain's oldest newspapers, the Aberdeen Press and Journal, first published in 1748. Aberdeen butteries (or rowies) are a distinctive form of bread roll said to have been originally made for Aberdeen fisherman, but now available throughout NE Scotland.
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