Edinburgh is home to not one, but two parliament buildings - the original structure, from before the union with England, and the newer, modern building which houses the current parliament.
With an increase in the awareness of - and public engagement with - political issues in Scotland in recent years, the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood is increasingly a focus of interest, not only from those who live in the city but for those who visit, too.
Scotland's original parliament was held on Parliament Square, adjacent to St Giles' Cathedral, and today houses the Supreme Court of Scotland. The original Parliament Hall survives, and is decorated with portraits of significant figures from Scottish political history.
This parliament was disbanded in 1707, following the Act of Parliament which united the two previously separate nations of Scotland and England.
A devolved parliament for Scotland was set up following a referendum of the Scottish people in 1997. The new building, housing the new parliament, opened in 2004. The site at Holyrood was developed as part of an effort to kickstart the regeneration of what had previously been a heavily industrial part of the city - the site of the Scottish Parliament building was formerly home to the Scottish and Newcastle brewery.
The complex of buildings were designed by a Catalan architect by the name of Enric Miralles, and their post-modern design attracted a lot of early (and, indeed, ongoing) criticism.
The cost of the building spiralled, from an original budget of around £10m to an estimated £414m on completion. The project was awarded the Stirling Prize for architecture, which commemorates designs which contribute to the evolution of architecture.
Today the parliament houses year-round art exhibitions, as well as free tours, a cafe, shop, and allows general public access to this home of Scottish government - a key part of its original function was to be a publicly accessible and open building, reflecting an open and engaged system of government of the Scottish people.
Tours are led throughout the week, but visitors can explore the public areas of the building - including the debating hall - without prior booking or arrangement.
The interior of the building is as striking as the outside in terms of its design and layout, filled with symbolism and imagery that reflects key aspects of Scottish life and culture.
Find out more about the Scottish Parliament building and the Holyrood area with my private Edinburgh city walking tours!
Search the blog archive...