The Scotsman Steps – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

The Scotsman Steps

The colorful stairs are made with marble from the world's major quarries. 


Tourists and locals alike whizz up and down these steps. Few pause to notice the various shades of creamy hues beneath their feet, flowing through the stairwell like a marble river.

The stairway, constructed in 1899, was built alongside the Scotsman building, the newspaper’s former home. The 104 steps link the North Bridge to Market Street, letting pedestrians pass between the two levels with ease. Art exhibits popped up within the stone tower, giving walkers ample opportunities to pause as they traveled between the Old Town and New Town.

But by the early 21st century, the stairs fell into disrepair. Rubbish littered the steps, which often stank with the stench of urine, as people took to using the passage as an oversized public urinal.

In 2011, a new art project revived the then-decrepit stairwell. Artist Martin Creed, commissioned by the nearby Fruitmarket Gallery, installed “Work No. 1059.” Creed created new steps, sourcing the marble from the world’s major quarries. Each step is a different color, creating a cascading rainbow of swirling stones.

Unfortunately, the staircase is starting to get a bit grungy. Scribbled graffiti mars the walls, and cigarette butts and globs of blackened gum freckle the ground.

Know Before You Go

The stairs are freely accessible at all times.

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