On the outskirts of Edinburg’s old town stands an ancient tavern that locals call World’s End. The place has carried its name since the Middle Ages, when it was built right next to the Flodden Wall – a barrier that protected the city. Times were different back then, and few people ventured outside the wall, where roads and woods were filled with many perils. For its inhabitants, the city was their entire world, and it ended right there at the wall. The tavern was as far as their adventures would go, hence its name – World’s End.
Walking around Edinburgh, it is still possible to see the remnants of these old fortifications. It is when realization comes, just how small ancient and medieval cities actually were. A brisk walk from two furthermost ends of the wall takes only about 15 minutes. Other historical cities were not much larger; for instance, Ancient Athens measured just 1.5 square kilometers in diameter.
Today, cities like Singapore, Zurich or Amsterdam are considered to be “small”, at least compared to giants like New York or Tokyo. It is worth remembering though that throughout history most people lived within towns that were no larger than a contemporary neighborhood. In comparison, even a small modern town, let alone a metropolis, starts to feel very spacious. Here, history ones again gives us a sense of perspective and appreciation for the luxuries of our century.