Just north of St Andrews Square, you find the National Portrait Gallery. Its collection offers “the story of Scotland told through portraits of the people who shaped it” (quote: information board), which means that they display all materials that you can put faces on – paintings, busts, coins, ivory lockets, just to name a few.
If you go there, it is definitely worth booking a tour. The guides are incredibly enthusiastic about art and the different personalities on display. They leave you with a question that you might not have thought of yourself: why did those people want to portray themselves for future generations in that certain way?
The persons shown vary from rich Scots during the Grand Tour in Italy to royalty and film stars like Alan Cumming. One particular painting shows a young, handsome man whose name nobody knows, but many people fondly call him Mr Darcy, because the portrait was made around the time when Jane Austen wrote her famous novels.
The National Portrait Gallery gives an opportunity to reflect on how we like to present ourselves, while it also teaches us about Scottish history.
Insider tip: by all means pay the gallery’s café a visit. Their scones are to die for!