City fathers intended for Calton Hill to be Edinburgh's Acropolis, a site for monuments worthy of "Athens of the North," the world center of arts and science for almost a century. Bold plans to construct a Parthenon to commemorate casualties in the Napoleonic Wars fell short due to lack of funds, and the incomplete Scottish National Monument's roofless colonnade is visible from all corners of New and Old Town. The folly falls far short of a Scottish Valhalla as its designers intended, but it reigns over a field of memorials designed by renowned architect William Playfair, including the cross-tipped tower of Nelson's Monument, the Old Calton Burial Ground, and the Gothic domed City Observatory.
Playfair's Royal, Carlton, and Regent Terraces encircle the hilltop and provide sweeping views for the desirable private houses built there. Wine merchants and exiled nobility resided in the largest townhouses on Royal Terrace, known otherwise as Whiskey Row; today, the US Consulate is a neighbour to celebrities and the moneyed classes. The collection of fine houses belongs to the UNESCO heritage site, a frequently photographed vista associated with the city. Adjacent Broughton was long associated with witchcraft in antiquity, but today is best known for its independent shops and gay scene. Nightlife lacks the chaotic elements common to Old Town, restrained by the formal gentility next door.