Aberdeen is a harbour in Scotland. That’s pretty much all that people seem to know about it. But Aberdeen is more than that. It is the winner of “UK City in Bloom” competition, proudly exposing its nickname, "The Rose City." Honestly, the gardens might be nice in spring or summer, but in winter, there is not much to smell. Aberdeen is also known as "The Granite City." The splendid architecture was designed by architects as famous as Archibald Simpson, John Smith, or Marshall Mackenzie.
The essential part of your tour will definitely be the second-largest granite building in the world, The Marischal College on Broad Street. You will see kind of more austere style designed by Archibald Simpson in 1837 and the perpendicular Gothic style by Marshall Mackenzie in 1890s.The overall style is a combination of different working technologies. The older part of the building is made from Rubislaw stone, and the modern Gothic is from Kemnay stone. Even if this building is huge, it is not really “so pretty.” For more romantic granite building, head toward the Union Street and Castle Gate. On your left will soon appear The New Town House (1868-1874). Designed by Peddie and Kinnear, it expresses the confidence of a mature granite industry. With its towers and arcades, it shows what the industry and town could do. This confidence went so far as to boldly incorporate a medieval sandstone Tolbooth at the east end. The Tolbooth Museum can be visited here today. All matters related to imprisonment can be seen here and entrance is free.
At the head of the Union street is the sandstone Market Cross (1686), symbolising the pre-granite period. Salvation Army Citadel (1896), behind the Market Cross by James Souttar, was completed when granite industry was at its peak. Some 300,000 tons of stone was being quarried locally, and 40,000 tons of this was exported through Aberdeen harbour.
These are the buildings that have to be seen, but with a bit more of time, you can also see the Episcopal cathedral, Aberdeen Art Gallery, His Majesty’s Theatre, or Kirk of Saint Nicolas.
Lots of leaflets with maps can be found at the airport or inside any major building, so you will not get lost and certainly you will not be bored if you have the explorer spirit. Some of the leaflets will take you just around the plaques placed everywhere around the city. It can be a good fun, and at the same time you will learn a lot about the past and pride of this rose granite city.
Leicester, United Kingdom
February 13, 2006
From journal Granite Past of Aberdeen