Edinburgh City Chambers

City Chambers, Edinburgh
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

City Chambers, Edinburgh

Located on Edinburgh's High Street (part of the Royal Mile), the City Chambers is a grand building built around three sides of a piazza, fronted by an arched colonnade. The visitor is met by a statue of Alexander and Bucephalus by Sir John Steell (1804 - 1891). The building was designed by John Adam (1721 - 1791) of the noted architectural family and built at a cost of £31,000 between 1753-61 over several of the mediaeval High Street 'Closes' (including Mary King's Close). Intended as a Royal Exchange to provide a forum for the Edinburgh merchant community to transact their business, the merchants however preferred the taverns and the High Street itself to their new premises. Thus the Town Council took over part of the building in 1811 and proceeded to purchase the remainder later in the century, ordering major extensions which were completed between 1898 and 1903, including the northern range. This northern range, which houses the Edwardian wood-panelled council chambers, rises an impressive twelve storeys above Cockburn Street at the rear, yet is only three storeys at the front, illustrating the steep slopes which fall away on both sides of the Royal Mile.

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