The Grassmarket is located directly southeast of Edinburgh Castle and comprises what was in past centuries one of Edinburgh's main markets, as well as the setting for public executions. The old market area is surrounded by pubs, clubs, local retail shops, and two large hotels. Many students live in the Grassmarket, though its openness (due to the large market space) and proximity to the centre of town tend to increase house prices.
The Grassmarket contains some of Edinburgh's tallest buildings, some having eight or nine stories (and due to the age of the housing a storey is 11 or 12 feet high - just under 4 meters). However, because the area is low-lying and the Castle Rock dominates above, these heights are not readily apparent.
The Grassmarket adjoins the Cowgate to the east, the West Bow (also known as Victoria Street), King's Stables Road and the West Port. Leading off the Grassmarket is the Vennel, along which can still be seen some of the remaining parts of the Flodden and Telfer city walls.
The Grassmarket is currently undergoing a £5.1m revamp that is due to be completed by December 2008. Whilst the busy main road to the south is to be kept as previous, the northern cobbled street will be paved over. The block of paving that ran down the centre of the street is being extended. The created area will have space for markets, which will be held much more frequently than previously. There will also be a greater amount of space allocated for outdoor seating for the cafes and restaurants that line the northern end of the street during the summer months. Contrary to original plans, the trees in the centre of the streets are to be kept, following protests from local residents. Some of the older trees that are dieseased are being replaced with new ones.
At the western end of the street, the area 'Granny's Green' is also being renovated. New seating areas and gardens are being constructed, and a new set of steps, the 'Granny's Green Steps' have been constructed to link the Grassmarket with Johnston Terrace, which is in turn linked to the castle.
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