Our city guide to Aberdeen

Scotland's third largest city, Aberdeen is a lively, maritime port of Georgian architecture perched overlooking the wild North Sea and providing an excellent base for exploring the Royal Deeside region of Scotland.

Located on a ridge of land between the Rivers Dee and Don as they reach their end at the North Sea, Aberdeen grew up in the middle-ages as a thriving fishing community and sea port. Her position on two rivers made her an important hub for trade in the Grampian Highlands whilst her sea harbour meant that the city also became, and remains, a key port for connections to the Northern Isles of Shetland and Orkney. In the 1970s the discovery of vast oil fields in the North Sea resulted in a second boom and as a result the city continues to enjoy a healthy affluence rarely found elsewhere in the Highlands.

Known as the "Granite City", Aberdeen is dominated by its Georgian architecture constructed mainly from local granite stone. Whilst some see this as giving the city a dour complexion, in the sunshine the rock glitters providing a quite magical effect. Main architectural highlights include the castellated Citadel at the cobbled Castlegate standing in the city centre at the end of Union Street and the turreted façade of the Town House. Not to mention the second largest granite structure in the world at Marsichal College. The city centre is also home to an impressive art gallery, including works from Monet and Renoir, and the Aberdeen Maritime Museum which recalls the city's seafaring history, a theme that can be further explored at the historic port and traditional fish-market both of which are well worth a visit. With its large student population and wealthy oil industry workers the city provides an eclectic mix of nightlife with bars, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes.

Surrounding Aberdeen in the Aberdeenshire countryside and Royal Deeside area you will find a wealth of attractions and heritage sites. Just down the coast you come to the charming port of Stonehaven and the stunning cliff-top castle ruin at Dunottar Castle, reputedly Scotland's most haunted castle. Inland there are a number of baronial manors and castles to be explored as well as Scotland's highest concentration of whisky distilleries, ideal for those looking to sample a wee dram of the "water of life". Many also use Aberdeen as a base from which to explore as far inland as Crathes Castle, Braemar, Ballater and nearby residence of the Queen at Balmoral Castle.

A vibrant city with a rich maritime history, Aberdeen provides an ideal base from which to explore the North East of Scotland.

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