For all of you who are weary of the US election coverage and want some distraction, here are some photos of Aberdeen taken during my recent trip to the UK. I’ll be posting more in the next few days.
From these photos, it’s obvious why Aberdeen is known as the granite city or the silver city. For pretty much every building in the entire city from the very old to the very new is built from grey granite with the occasional highlights of pale red granite. When the sun is shining, the grey granite shimmers silver, hence the silver city. When it’s overcast or raining, the granite is just grey.
Aberdeen Castlegate, so named because this is where Aberdeen Castle once stood. The castle has been gone since the Middle Ages to be replaced by the 19th century Salvation Army Citadel in the background, Mercat Cross, the structure in the middle of the photo and the monument to the Gordon Highlanders in the foreground.
Mercat Cross, which has nothing to do with meerkats, but instead is Scottish for “market cross”. Mercat Crosses are found in towns all over Scotland. This particular example dates from the 17th century. The gentlemen depicted in the reliefs are various Scottish kings from the Stuart dynasty.
The royal unicorn on top of Mercat Cross
It’s the Gordon Highlander monument again, this time with the tower of the Aberdeen Arts Centre in the background.
This building now houses the Aberdeen Arts Centre, a theatre and concert venue. I’m pretty sure it was something else once upon a time, most probably a church, but I couldn’t find any information about that.
This stunning building houses the so-called Sheriff Court and the so-called Tolbooth, a former prison that is now a museum. Supposedly, it’s haunted.
A closer look at the tower of the Sheriff Court building
Provost Skene’s House, a 17th century house that was once owned by the mayor of Aberdeen, one Provost Skene, and later served as an inn. It survived a slum clearance campaign as well as the postwar building boom and is now a museum.
You can see that Provost Skene’s House is nestled between or surrounded by postwar highrise buildings. Note that the modern buildings use the same grey granite material as the old ones.
Marischal College, which has been a university since the 16th century. This stunning neogothic granite building only dates from the 19th century, though. Nowadays, Marischal College is part of the University of Aberdeen.
A statue of Robert the Bruce, former King of Scotland, in front of Marischal College
The neogothic college church/chapel of Marischal College.
The Kirk of St Nicholas. Though there has been a church on this spot for a long time, the present incarnation is yet another example of Victorian neogothic architecture.
The churchyard of the Kirk of St. Nicholas with many interesting vintage headstones. Quite amazingly, this historic cemetery is located directly in the middle of the city on the main commercial shopping street and is flanked by shopping centres on both sides.
A side entrance to St Nicholas churchyard.
The main entrance of St Nicholas churchyard on Union Street
I have rarely seen a city with so many churches as Aberdeen, though very few of them are still actively used as churches, others are pubs, arts centres, etc… Here is a particularly attractive church on Union Street. Note the red granite that was used alongside the familiar grey granite.
Looking at all the granite, one cannot help but wonder what would happen if anybody decided to build something from a material other than granite. It doesn’t seem to happen all too often, because this red brick church was the only building made from something other than granite that I saw and it’s a ruin. Coincidence? Or retribution for using brick instead of granite?
A view across the roofs of the city from Union Bridge with several church spires.
This domed building and war memorial is part of the Aberdeen Art Gallery.
This row of stunning domed buildings consists of, from left to right, the public library, St Mark’s Church, His Majesty’s Theatre and the Aberdeen Art Gallery.
This statue of William Wallace – the Scottish rebel who was portrayed badly and inaccurately by Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” – seems to point straight at His Majesty’s Theatre. Either he’s thinking, “Well, it’s not my king” or “Come on, Mel. Isn’t that a lovely theatre? Don’t you want to appear on that stage? Don’t you want to drop by, so I can chop your head off for the travesty that was Braveheart.”