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Scottish sights among world’s best

IT may not have the majesty of the Taj Mahal or the jaw-dropping natural beauty of the Grand Canyon, but Glasgow's Duke of Wellington statue – complete with the obligatory traffic cone on its head – has been named as one of the world's ultimate sights.

ATTRACTIONS: From top, Shetland's Up-Helly-Aa, Eilean Donan Castle, the Scott Monument, Edinburgh Castle and the Wellington Statue. Main picture: PA
ATTRACTIONS: From top, Shetland's Up-Helly-Aa, Eilean Donan Castle, the Scott Monument, Edinburgh Castle and the Wellington Statue. Main picture: PA

IT may not have the majesty of the Taj Mahal or the jaw-dropping natural beauty of the Grand Canyon, but Glasgow’s Duke of Wellington statue -- complete with the obligatory traffic cone on its head -- has been named as one of the world’s ultimate sights.

The statue in the city centre, which is the subject of paintings, postcards and T-shirts and even has its own Facebook page, is included in a compilation of the top 10 most bizarre monuments on Earth, alongside the Rocky Balboa statue in Serbia and the Washington National Cathedral in the US.

The top 10 list was one of 100 which made it into a new book published by Lonely Planet to inspire travellers to visit the world’s 1000 ultimate sights, with categories including architectural masterpieces, greatest harbours and best sunrises and sunsets.

Scotland features prominently in the guidebook, with 10 inclusions ranging from Loch Ness as one of the world’s “most mysterious sites” list, to Shetland’s Up-Helly-Aa, dubbed as one of the “most entertaining parades”, and the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, which has been classed as one of the world’s “spookiest buildings”.

Eilean Donan Castle, in Dornie, at Loch Duich, near Skye, has been named as one of Europe’s “most fairytale like castles”, for its “brooding, solitary and rugged” appearance.

The building, which often appears in tourist brochures, was the only castle in Scotland to receive inclusion in its own right -- Edinburgh Castle is listed under the “strangest optical illusions and mirages” category for the St Elmo’s Fire phenomenon.

David Win, castle keeper at Eilean Donan, said he was “delighted” to be selected by the guidebook. “We’ve worked hard in the past few years to increase our global exposure,” he said. “We attract more than 300,000 visitors a year and this recognition is fabulous for us.”

Nick Finnigan, executive manager of Edinburgh Castle, said: “Edinburgh Castle is a breathtaking global icon, but seeing the castle against the backdrop of a night sky of bright blue and purple flames, the phenomenon known as St Elmo’s Fire, one of the most amazing optical illusions in nature, is definitely an experience of a lifetime.”

Other Scottish attractions on the list include Skara Brae in Orkney as a “most intriguing lost city”, St Andrews as one of the “best sporty sights” and the Edinburgh International Festival for the fireworks display category.

Lonely Planet author David Else said he had struggled to whittle down the many suggestions from 200 people to just 1000 sights, saying it was “very pleasing” that Scotland had gained 10 mentions.

“The range of sites from Scotland emphasises the range that Scotland has to offer any visitor,” he said. “People might think of kilts and bagpipes but I think it’s great for people from outside Scotland to see that the country has so much more to offer.

“There are sights in there that you would expect but we tried to include some unexpected places to provide inspiration for travellers.”

Alongside the Duke of Wellington statue, the Willow Tearooms were chosen as Glasgow’s other ultimate sight, featuring in the “Art Nouveau Icons” category.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “It is tremendous to see Glasgow icons such as the Willow Tea Rooms and the Duke of Wellington statue listed among those places that are worthy of a visit.

“It is fantastic to see such a wide range of Scottish attractions, venues and regions represented in Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Sights Guide.”

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