The Scottish city of Aberdeen is known under many nicknames. Here are a couple of them: “Granite city,” “Oil Capital of Europe,” and “Energy Capital of Europe.”
One represents the past, one aptly describes today’s Aberdeen, and one tells us in which direction this city is currently heading.
“Granite city” is a remnant from past times, when Aberdeen became known for the granite quarried here. It has been estimated that six million tons of granite were excavated from the Rubislaw Quarry in the period from the late 18th century until 1971.
Throughout the centuries, granite from what is now one of the biggest man-made holes in Europe was used when constructing the terraces at Westminster Palace and the Waterloo Bridge in London. Aberdeen itself, of course, also features a number of impressive houses built in granite, such as the Aberdeen City Town House.
The city has also had significant production in other industry fields. Paper, ships and textiles are some of the produce that Aberdeen has been well-known for.
Since the early 1970s, however, oil has been the chief driver of economic growth in Aberdeen and the surrounding area, resulting in the city being referred to as “The Oil Capital of Europe.” “Houston of the North” is another nickname, also referring to the central role of the oil industry.
Oil from the North Sea has had a major implication on the city’s positive development, contributing substantially to the local economy. The result: low unemployment levels and a reputation as one of Britain’s best places to live and work.
However, with oil reserves expected to dwindle in decades to come, Aberdeen is involved in a project that will propel it to the next level: the ambition is to become not only the Oil Capital of Europe, but the Energy Capital of Europe. To this end, the city has embarked on the so-called Energetica project. This public-private partnership is designed to position Aberdeen and the surrounding area as a global energy hub in the fields of innovation, knowledge, learning and skills in current and future energy generation.
Situated where the Dee and Don rivers meet the sea, the Aberdeen area has seen human settlement for at least 8,000 years. Originally constituted by two separate burghs, Old Aberdeen and New Aberdeen, today’s city started to take form during the late 18th century. It is now the third most populous in Scotland, after Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Cruise ships dock some 0.75 miles/1.2 kilometers from the city center, providing for easy access. Taxis are available quayside.
- The Aberdeen Maritime Museum is a must for any visitor. Aberdeen has a long and rich maritime past. While fishing was once the dominating activity, the oil industry is now more important. At the museum, find out what it’s like working on an oil rig on the North Sea or look closer at a wide range of ship models and exhibitions about shipbuilding and life at sea.
- At Aberdeen Art Gallery, experience what is considered one of the finest art collections in Britain. Paintings, sculptures and graphics from the 15th century to the present day are on display.
- Provost Skene’s House is a granite building dating from 1545, housing a number of different interiors from different centuries. The house is one of few remaining examples of early burgh architecture.
- The Tolbooth Museum is not your ordinary museum. Housed in Aberdeen’s former prison, it promises “a real insight into imprisonment and the treatment of prisoners and rebel Jacobites in times gone by.” The fact that the displays include the Maiden and the blade of Aberdeen’s 17th century guillotine gives an indication as to how prisoners could be treated.
- Satrosphere is something for kids of all ages. This science and discovery center features more than 50 hands-on interactive exhibits and live science shows, which inspire the scientist within as well as entertain the whole family.
- Close to Aberdeen Beach you will find Codona’s Amusement Park, with lots of various rides and attractions. Codona’s also has indoor and outdoor adventure golf on the agenda.
- For an altogether different park experience, visit Duthie Park – one of the most popular parks in Aberdeen. The 44-acre park includes the Winter Gardens, housing a wide range of exotic plants – including Britain’s largest collection of cacti. You will also find fountains, ponds, and statues on the premises.
- At Gordon Higlanders Museum, explore the history about one of the most highly acclaimed regiments of the British army: Gordon Highlanders infantry. Founded in Aberdeen in the late 18th century, the regiment is now part of the Highlanders regiment. The museum is located in the former home of the well-known Scottish artist Sir George Reid.
- If shopping is your thing, you will probably find that the department stores, shops and malls around the milelong Union Street will meet all your needs.
- Aberdeen is also an excellent destination for whisky enthusiasts. The nearby Grampian Highlands are home to the Malt Whisky Trail. The trail includes well-known distilleries such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, but also lesser-known producers such as Cardhu and Benromach.
A number of shore excursions in and around Aberdeen can be on offer. Examples include:
- Tours of Aberdeen, by coach or private car, will take in many of the features mentioned above under Do Not Miss.
- Tours of the Scottish landscape. These can include the Balmoral Castle, the private home of the Royal Family. Other destinations that can be comprised: the town of Ballater, the small church Crathie Kirk, the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, and Crathes Castle & Gardens. The scenic Scottish landscape is included along the way.
- Pitmedden Gardens can be the destination on some excursions. Noted for its geometric patterns, Pitmedden Gardens is known for its beauty, design and historical importance.
Travel 127 miles/205 kilometers south to get to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It’s 146 miles/235 kilometers to Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland. The distance to London, capital of the UK, is 536 miles/860 kilometers.
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Aberdeen.