IT is one of the remarkable sites in Scotland's capital, an historic mount topped with stone monuments to war, heroism, philosophy and architecture.

Now Calton Hill has a new attraction - and one with culture and the contemporary as its focus - for those who wish to climb the steep paths to its peak: an art gallery, Collective, and a refurbished City Observatory.

Kate Gray, the director of the Collective, which was formed in 1984 to promote new artists in the city, said she hopes 150,000 people will visit the complex of buildings in the coming year and see its contemporary art shows in the coming years.

Opposite the unfinished National Monument, the unfinished Parthenon-like structure built to honour the soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars, Collective has taken over the site of the City Observatory, designed by William Playfair in 1818, and the City Dome, which is now a circular art gallery.

The Observatory has been refurbished as part of the £4.5m project undertaken with the City of Edinburgh Council, and is now open to the public for the first time in 200 years.

READ MORE: From Arts News - Collective Gallery takes shape.

Collective have also built a new restaurant, which overhangs the hilltop, called The Lookout, which is being run by local restaurateurs Gardener's Cottage: the restaurant, with glass walls, provides panoramic views over the city and the Firth of Forth.

Also new is The Hillside, a new contemporary art gallery which has been built into the hill: all the galleries and the Observatory are free to enter.

Ms Gray said that the opening of Collective, nine years in the making and delayed until the winter this year, is an important moment for the gallery, but also Calton Hill and contemporary art in the city.

She said that Calton Hill is a natural place for visitors to walk, pause, reflect, and view the city from an elevated aspect.

She added: "I feel like we are still doing what was our mission right in the beginning: champion art being made here, bring new work here, show work for the first time and show it all year around.

"What I wanted to keep at the heart of this organisation was making work, and showing of it.

"The City Observatory to me is a great metaphor for the work we do: it is for the city, not for one type of person, and we'd like to think that some people will come and see things, others will find things to do that will be useful in their everyday life.

"I think it is a big change for Edinburgh, but more than a change in profile for one organisation, it is about a different kind of model: it allows the City Council to think about this in different ways.

"What I wanted to achieve, through this, is to show how a homegrown visual arts organisation could be meaningful for the city."

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Collective was established in 1984 and has been commissioning new contemporary art ever since.

Collective has staged exhibitions by Ruth Ewan, Jeremy Deller, Mike Nelson and Claire Barclay, as well as commissioning significant new works by Hito Steyerl, Jessie Jones and Marvin Gaye (now Monster) Chetwynd.

It was formerly based on Cockburn Street.

The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland and Edinburgh World Heritage among others.

Collective first moved to the site in 2013.

Ms Gray added: "The expectation when I first came across the site was that it would be redeveloped as a purely heritage site - maybe as a museum, but this is not a museum.

"It really took time for me to recognise that actually this is an interesting prospect.

"Edinburgh has a lot of history, and a lot that converge on this piece of land, it is incredibly diverse, there are prominent narratives that we hear all the time, but to have a project that is really thinking about the future, about rethinking the past and the future, is what we were really aiming for - and that is a new prospect for Calton Hill."

Artists with shows in the first exhibitions include Dineo Seshee Bopape, James N Hutchinson, Alexandra Laudo, Tessa Lynch, Catherine Payton and Klaus Weber.

The City Dome, completed in 1895 as a subsidiary to the main Observatory, has been restored and will play host to a changing programme of international artists showing their work in Scotland for the first time.

Also restored as part of Collective is the Transit House: originally used as an observatory, the building will now serve as a learning and education space for visiting schools and groups.

The original ‘Politician’s Clock’, called that title because it has two faces, is back on display.

READ MORE: Collective reveal new gallery on top of Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Councillor Donald Wilson, culture convener of the City of Edinburgh Council said: "Gazing over the city from the top of Calton Hill, the City Observatory has played an important role in Edinburgh life for hundreds of years.

"Now it is set to become one of the most unique ‘must visit’ destinations in all of the city.

"The building is a historically significant symbol of the Edinburgh Enlightenment as well as a major contributor to the history of star gazing.

"It’s a brilliant example of Scottish architecture – an original Playfair design – and boasts a prominent position on the Edinburgh skyline with panoramic views of the Firth of Forth, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle. When it reopens, it is also going to be a space for people to enjoy the arts and for the public to visit freely."

Adam Wilkinson, the director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: "We are delighted to support Collective’s vision for conserving and reusing the City Observatory.

"Knowing the historical, architectural and scientific significance of the building, they first approached us to fund the production of a thorough conservation statement.

"This ensured that sensitive and appropriate repairs and interventions were made.

"Particular highlights for us are the restoration of Playfair’s original 1827 open plan layout for the ground floor, and the conservation of the Transit House.

"We have invested significant funds in the conservation of other monuments on Calton Hill over the last ten years and are pleased to support these works, which form the final piece of the jigsaw.”