In old Aberdeen is the University of Aberdeen (tel. 01224/272-000; www.abdn.ac.uk), a fusion of two colleges. Reached along University Road, King's College (tel. 01224/272-137; bus: 6 or 20) is Great Britain's oldest school of medicine. The college is known for its chapel (ca. 1500) with pre-Reformation carved woodwork, the finest of its kind in Scotland; it's open daily 9am to 4:30pm, charging no admission. On Broad Street is Marischal College (tel. 01224/272-000), founded in 1593 by Earl Marischal -- it's the world's second-biggest granite structure (El Escorial, outside Madrid, is much larger). The main structure is no longer in use, but on-site is the Marischal Museum, displaying exhibits and photos of the university and the Scottish culture of the northeast in general; admission is free, and the museum is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 2 to 5pm. In 1860, the colleges joined together to form the nucleus of the University of Aberdeen.

Also at the University of Aberdeen, the Cruickshank Botanic Garden, St. Machar Drive (tel. 01224/272-704; www.abdn.ac.uk; bus: 6 or 20), displays alpines, shrubs, and many herbaceous plants, along with rock and water gardens. It's open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm; in summer, it's also open Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5pm. Admission is free.

The Cathedral of St. Machar, Chanonry (tel. 01224/485-988 in the morning, or 01224/317-424 in the afternoon; www.stmachar.com; bus: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 26), was founded in 1131, but the present structure dates from the 15th century. Its splendid heraldic ceiling contains three rows of shields. Be sure to note the magnificent modern stained-glass windows by Douglas Strachan and the pre-Reformation woodwork. The cathedral is open daily 9am to 5pm.

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