The monument commemorates the life of Robert Burns (1759-1796), undoubtedly Scotland’s greatest poet. Located on Regent Road at the foot of Calton Hill, it was modelled on the Choragic Monument to Lysicrates in Athens, which was erected in celebration of the arts.
The monument was designed by Thomas Hamilton, one of the leading sculptors of the time, originally to house a marble statue of the bard by John Flaxman, Scotland’s leading Greek revivalist. Hamilton was also the architect for the Royal High School building, which can be seen directly across the road.
Burns himself only lived in Edinburgh for a couple of years, arriving from his home in Ayrshire in 1786.
The monument is not currently open to the public, except on special occasions like the ‘Doors Open Day’ every September. The statue is no longer inside, but you can still see it on display in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street, and it depicts Burns reciting his poem ‘To a Mountain Daisy.’
The gardens around the monument are planted with the typical Scottish flowers and plants that are mentioned in many of his poems.