Collective brings people together to look at, think about and produce contemporary art in a new kind of City Observatory

Collective is a charity – entry is free, donations are welcome

Find Us

City Observatory
38 Calton Hill

+44 (0)131 556 1264
[email protected]

On foot
Collective is situated on the top of Calton Hill, in the heart of Edinburgh. Calton Hill is a public park and there is no vehicle access, except for disabled visitors. Steps lead up the Hill from Waterloo Place and Royal Terrace.

By bike
Bikes can be locked to the rack at the base of the steps on Waterloo Place.

By bus
Regular buses stop on Waterloo Place and Royal Terrace – visit Lothian Buses or download their app to plan your journey.

By train
Waverley station is just a few minutes away on foot – visit National Rail Enquiries to plan your journey.

By car
There is no vehicle access (except for disabled visitors) or parking at Collective and we encourage visitors to use public transport wherever possible. The nearest Pay & Display car parking is on Regent Road or at the Q-Park Omni.

By taxi
Taxi drop-off and pick-up (no parking) is permitted via the access road.

By plane
Edinburgh Airport is well connected internationally. Take the Airlink 100 bus or tram to reach the city centre.

Explore Collective

The Lookout

The distinctive restaurant which forms the north-west corner of Collective. The building was designed by Collective Architecture to complement the older buildings and was completed in 2018. For menu and booking details of The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage visit the webpage here.

The City Dome

The largest dome at Collective. It was built in 1895 to house the Buckingham telescope, as its 22-inch lens was too large for Playfair’s Observatory. The Dome was re-purposed as a space for displaying contemporary art in 2014 and now hosts a changing programme of exhibitions and installations.

The City Observatory

Designed by William Henry Playfair in 1818 and the birthplace of astronomy and timekeeping in Edinburgh. The building houses two telescopes, a shop showcasing the work of contemporary artists and makers, and a library which is open to visitors.

The Transit House

Completed in 1812 and housed a transit telescope, which was used to calculate accurate time. Sailors would climb Calton Hill from the Port of Leith to set their chronometers by the clock in the window. The Transit House is now a learning space for visiting schools and groups.

The Hillside

The Hillside is set into the excavated hillside in front of the Observatory and is a space for looking at and thinking about new art work. Collective’s office is located here, while on the roof of the building a viewing terrace offers an extraordinary panoramic vista.

Playfair Monument

The Playfair Monument was designed by architect William Henry Playfair and dedicated to his Uncle, John Playfair, the first President of the Astronomical Society which founded the Observatory.

Observers' Walk

Patrick Staff

Site History

Calton Hill is the birthplace of astronomy and timekeeping in Edinburgh. Within the walled grounds of Collective sits a collection of buildings including the City Observatory - designed by William Henry Playfair in 1818- the Transit House, City Dome, Observatory House and Playfair Monument. The City Observatory stands in the centre, a temple to scientific innovation and discovery.

The site forms a vital component in the group of buildings on Calton Hill, which are central to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and both architecturally and culturally significant to the history of Edinburgh and Scotland.

Read more


The Kiosk by Gardener’s Cottage offers a range of takeaway drinks and light bites to enjoy in the grounds of Collective

Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm