The Silver City

We are in Aberdeen, a city known for its extensive use of granite as a building material and because of this it is also sometimes called the granite city or the silver city. On the train here from York, I tweeted that I was heading north in Scotland. Someone responded to my tweet with, “Ooh, lucky you. Unless it’s Aberdeen… :-/“. You know who you are! Aberdeen often gets this response I have found, along with descriptives like dour, grey, cold and isolated. But what are my own impressions after two days here?

A bit of background first. Aberdeen is known as the oil capital of Europe because of interests in the North Sea oil fields. As a result, it is quite a prosperous city and this is evident I think, by the ridiculous number of hair salons I have seen while walking around. Surely there is a point of hair salon saturation for a city. This does not appear to have happened in Aberdeen. I have never seen so many in one city in all my life.

Aberdeen is not a beautiful city. It’s a masculine city and so I could never describe it as beautiful but it is handsome. It is unpretentious and without the pomp and flamboyance of cities like London and Paris. It is also stately, solid and dependable; like a father who ensures order and stability. Does this make it boring though? I haven’t quite made up my mind. Is it possible to be naughty in Aberdeen? To be disobedient? I hope so but I am not sure.

The granite that forms the building blocks of all the buildings here gives the city a very uniform appearance. It also requires little maintenance and so the city looks generally well-kept. Perhaps I’ll post some photos and let my readers have a glimpse for themselves.

The first two were taken at the University of Aberdeen.



The next two photos are of buildings in the city centre which have fairy-tale-looking towers at the top called bartizans.


This next building is really impressive. It’s Marischal College and is owned by the University of Aberdeen but is on long-term lease to the city council. Lucky councillors! It’s the second largest granite building in the world. IMG_5091


And finally, it’s not all grey: here’s a tiny splash of colour outside the library.IMG_5113