Perth (Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic: Peairt) is a town and former royal burgh in central Scotland. Sitting on the banks of the River Tay, it is the administrative headquarters of Perth and Kinross council area. According to the 2001 census, the population of the town is 43,450.  Perth was a large burgh prior to 1975, and the county town of the former county of Perthshire.
The name Perth has hence been used for a number of other settlements around the world. The most notable of these is Perth, Western Australia — named such at the wish of Sir George Murray, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, who was born in Perth. Perth is popularly referred to as The Fair City, although per a redefinition of city status in the United Kingdom (see below), it is no longer officially classed as a city, one of only three towns in the UK to have been declassified as a city.
See main article: History of Perth, Scotland. The name Perth derives from a Pictish word for wood or copse, and links the town to the Picts described by the Romans, who subsequently joined with the Scots to form the kingdom of Alba which later became known as Scotland. During much of the medieval period the town was known colloquially as "St. John's Toun" or "Saint Johnstoun" because the church at the centre of the parish was dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Perth's Pictish name, and some archaeological evidence, indicate that there must have been a settlement here from earlier times, probably at a point where a river crossing or crossings coincided with a slightly raised natural mound on the west bank of the Tay (which at Perth flows north-south), thus giving some protection for settlement from the frequent flooding.
Finds in and around Perth show that it was occupied by the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who arrived in the area more than 8,000 years ago. Nearby Neolithic standing stones and circles followed the introduction of farming from about 4,000 BC, and a remarkably well preserved Bronze age log boat dated to around 1000 BC was found in the mudflats of the River Tay at Carpow to the east of Perth. Carpow was also the site of a Roman legionary fortress. Immediately to the north of modern Perth, at the confluence of the rivers Almond and Tay stood the Roman fort of Bertha. The presence of Scone two miles (3 km) northeast, a royal centre of Alba from at least the reign of Kenneth I mac Ailpín (843-58), later the site of the major Augustinian abbey of the same name founded by Alexander I (1107-24), will have enhanced Perth's early importance. It was for long the effective 'capital' of Scotland, due to the frequent residence of the royal court. King David I (1124-53) granted burgh status to the town in the early 12th century, and documents from this time refer to the status of the kirk there. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Perth was one of the richest trading burghs in the kingdom (along with such towns as Berwick, Aberdeen and Roxburgh), residence of numerous craftsmen, organised into guilds (eg the Hammermen [metalworkers] or Glovers). The town also carried out an extensive trade with France, The Low Countries and the Baltic Countries with luxury goods being brought back in return, such as Spanish silk and French pottery and wine. Medieval crafts are still remembered in some of the town's old street names, e.g, Skinnergate, Cutlog Vennel - one of two Scottish places to have a "vennel". The royal castle (on or near the site of the present multi-storey car park adjacent to the new council offices), was destroyed by a flood of the Tay in 1209, one of many that have afflicted Perth over the centuries.
King Edward I of England brought his armies to Perth in 1296 where the town, with only a ditch for defence and little fortification, fell quickly. Stronger fortifications were quickly implemented by the English, and plans to wall the town took shape in 1304. They remained standing until Robert the Bruce's recapture of Perth in 1312. He ordered the defences destroyed. As part of a plan to make Perth a permanent English base within Scotland, Edward III forced six monasteries in Perthshire and Fife to pay for the construction of massive stone defensive walls, towers and fortified gates around the town around 1336. These followed roughly the lines of present day Albert Close, Mill Street, South Methven Street, Charterhouse Lane and Canal Street (these streets evolved from a lane around the inside of the walls). The walls were pierced by several ports or gates, whose names are still remembered: the Red Brig Port (end of Skinnergate), Turret Brig Port (end of High Street), Southgait Port (end of South Street) and the Spey Port (end of Speygate). There was probably also a minor gate leading to Curfew Row. These defences were the strongest of any town in Scotland in the Middle Ages. While political and religious strife engulfed England in the mid-16th century, John Knox began the Scottish Reformation from grass-roots level with a sermon against 'idolatry' in the burgh kirk of St. John the Baptist in 1559. An inflamed mob quickly destroyed the altars in the Kirk, then attacked the Houses of the Greyfriars and Blackfriars, and the Carthusian Priory. Scone Abbey was sacked shortly afterwards. The regent of infant Mary Queen of Scots, her mother Marie de Guise, was successful in quelling the rioting but presbyterianism in Perth remained strong.
Charles II was crowned at Scone, traditional site of the investiture of Kings of Scots, in 1651. When Oliver Cromwell came to Perth, fresh from victory in the English Civil War, he established a fortified citadel on the South Inch, one of five built around Scotland. Perth's hospital, bridge and several dozen houses were demolished to provide building materials for this fort. The restoration of Charles II was not without incident, and with the Act of settlement, came the Jacobite uprisings, to which Perth was supportive. The town was occupied by Jacobite supporters thrice in total (1689, 1715 and 1745). In 1760, Perth Academy was founded, and major industry came to the town, now with a population of 15,000. Linen, leather, bleached products and whisky were its major exports, although the town had been a key port for centuries. In 1804, Thomas Dick received an invitation from local patrons to act as teacher in the Secession school at Methven that led to a ten year's residence there for him. The school was distinguished by efforts on his part towards popular improvement, including a zealous promotion of the study of science, the foundation of a people's library, and what was substantially a mechanic's institute. The Perth Royal Infirmary was built in 1838, although this was soon relocated due to cramped conditions by 1914 - making the hospital one of the first in Scotland to deal with X-rays. Given its location, Perth was perfectly placed to become a key transport centre with the coming of the railways. The first railway station in Perth was built in 1848. Horse-drawn carriage became popular in the 1890s although they were quickly replaced by electric trams. Despite being a garrison town and major developments, social and industrial, during the First World War, Perth remained relatively unchanged.
Perth remains a key transport hub for journeys by car and rail throughout Scotland. The M90 motorway runs south from the town to Edinburgh; the A9 road connects it to Stirling and Glasgow in the south west and Inverness in the north. Other major roads in the town include the A85 to Crieff and Crianlarich, the A93 to Blairgowrie, the A94 to Coupar Angus and Forfar and the A90 to Dundee and Aberdeen.
The town itself was bypassed to the South and East by the M90 in the 1970s and to the west by the A9 in the 1980s. The M90, A9 and A93 all meet at Broxden Junction, one of the busiest and most important road junctions in Scotland. Uniquely, all of Scotland's six cities are signposted from here: Glasgow and Stirling via the A9 southbound, Dundee and Aberdeen via the A90, Edinburgh via the M90, and Inverness via the A9 northbound. The final part of the M90 included the construction of the Friarton Bridge in 1978 to facilitate travel to Dundee and Aberdeen to the east of the town, finally removing inter-city traffic from the town centre. The bridge is the most northerly piece of the motorway network in the United Kingdom.
Perth railway station has regular services to Fife, Edinburgh Waverley via the Forth Bridge, east to Dundee and Aberdeen, and south to Glasgow Queen Street. There are two direct trains per day to London, one operated by NXEC to King's Cross (from Inverness), while the Caledonian Sleeper runs overnight to Euston.
The station currently has seven platforms; it once boasted more in the past to serve the smaller branch lines running throughout Perthshire. Perth Station is located on Glasgow Road, close to St Catherines Road.
Bus travel is plentiful in the town. Local buses are run by Stagecoach Group; inter-city bus travel is made from Leonard Street bus station and connects to most major destinations in Scotland. The budget Megabus service is centred on Broxden Junction (2.2 miles/3.5km outside the town centre) and runs direct buses to Scotland's largest cities plus Manchester and London. In addition, there is a park and ride service from the services at Broxden to the town centre.
Perth has a small airport. Perth Airport is located at New Scone, 7 km north east of Perth. There are no commercial flights out of this airport, but it is used by private aircraft and for pilot training. The nearest major commercial airport is Edinburgh Airport or Aberdeen Airport, although Dundee Airport, which is only 20 minutes drive from Perth, offers flights to London City Airport, Belfast, and Birmingham as well as charter, engineering and training facilities.
There are four bridges that cross the River Tay in Perth. The northernmost structure is Smeaton's Bridge (also known as Perth Bridge and, locally, the Old Bridge), completed in 1771 and widened in 1869, which carries the automotive and pedestrian traffic of West Bridge Street (the A85). Eastbound vehicles are not permitted to make a right turn onto Bridgend's Gowrie Street.
Next, some five hundred yards downstream, is Queen's Bridge, which also carries vehicle and pedestrian traffic, this time of South Street and Tay Street. Queen's Bridge was completed in 1960, replacing the old Victoria Bridge (1902–1960), and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October of that year.
The third bridge in the centre of Perth is a railway bridge, carrying trains to and from the railway station, half a mile to the north-west. It was completed in 1863. There is also a pedestrian walkway on its northern side (from where this image was taken).
Finally, the southernmost crossing of the Tay inside Perth's boundary is Friarton Bridge. It is part of the M90 motorway, and forms part of the east coast road corridor between Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.
A fifth bridge is to be added farther upstream (north) from the existing bridges. It is part of the Sustrans Connect2 successful bid for funds from The People's £50 Million Lottery competition. Locals and visitors alike will benefit from this project. When completed cyclists and pedestrians will be able to cross the Tay without the associated risks to safety, health and environment of being close up to other vehicles on Smeaton's Bridge.
Perth is within the Perth and Kinross council area, the Perth Scottish Parliament constituency, the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region of the Scottish Parliament (at Holyrood), and the Perth and North Perthshire United Kingdom Parliament constituency (at Westminster).
The Perth Scottish Parliament (or Holyrood) constituency is one of nine within the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region. Each constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election, and the region elects seven additional members to produce a form of proportional representation.
The Perth and North Perthshire United Kingdom Parliament (or Westminster) constituency elects on Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by the first past the post system.
The Holyrood constituency was created in 1999, for the first election to the Scottish Parliament, with the boundaries of the Perth Westminster constituency. The Perth Westminster constituency was abolished in 2005, when a new set of Westminster constituencies, including Perth and North Perthshire, was introduced.
The classic definition of Perth has been as a city, and traditional documentation confirms that this has been true since time immemorial. However, in the late 1990s, the UK government and the Scottish Executive re-examined the definition of a city and produced a list of approved cities, from which Perth was omitted. It is now considered to be a "former city", a similar definition to that of Brechin or Elgin.Current road-signs around the borders now call it "The Perfect Centre" instead of "The Fair City", although directional signs within still indicate "City Centre". In June, 2007, Alex Salmond, the newly-elected first Minister of Scotland backed a campaign to confer city status on Perth, saying it should be granted "at the next commemorative opportunity". The architectural writer John Gifford has said that Perth is a city "to its inhabitants and most outsiders, but not all bureaucrats."
Despite the downfall of the whisky distilleries, which have long since been sold off and moved away from Perth (although the town's name still appears on the labels), Perth has remained a centre for doing business. New high-tech industry has moved in, and the commercial impact has remained as major services, including insurance and banking, have come to the town. Amongst the largest employers are Norwich Union, the Bank of Scotland and Scottish and Southern Energy.
Perth's city centre is situated to the west of the banks of the River Tay. The centre has a variety of both independent and major retailers, particularly on the pedestrianised High Street, running from the junction of Tay Street to Atholl and Scott Streets. Perth also boasts many restaurants and bars on the majority of the city-centre streets, with coffee shops being most evident in the area of St. John's Place The St. John's Shopping Centre, on St. John's Square, which opened in 1987, also adds to the mix, providing forty units to complement any further retail therapy. The main sheriff court building and City Hall are also located within these boundaries. A new specialist three-floor shopping centre has been set to be finally approved for the troubled City Hall and likely to start building work as soon as possible.
See main article: Perth Royal Infirmary.
There are two main hospitals located in the city - Perth Royal Infirmary and Murray Royal Hospital.
Perth Royal Infirmary is the main hospital in Perth. The Royal Infirmary has resided on the current site since 1914 as the new hospital replacing the former Perth City and County Hospital. Murray Royal Hospital is the other hospital in Perth. The hospital caters for forensic psychiatry, palliative medicine and psychiatry patients. The Glenelg ward, formerly the Almond ward, has recently undergone a refurbishment plan which now includes a long term area and rehabiliation unit in 2007.
Murray Royal was opened in 1827 as James Murray's Royal Asylum at a cost of £40,000. James Murray was a labourer who was bequeathed a large inheritance and, having no family to leave the money to when he died, set up the asylum on Kinnoull Hill.
Perth Museum and Art Gallery is the town museum, and is one of the oldest provincial museums in Scotland, located at the top end of George Street, near the River Tay. The Fergusson Gallery, housed in the former waterworks, contains the major collection of the works of the artist J.D. Fergusson.
The New Wave band Fiction Factory had some success with their hit "(Feels Like) Heaven" in 1984. The song, which reached number six in the UK charts, would be their biggest hit, and Perth's biggest to date.The Perth Festival of the Arts is an annual collection of art, theatre, opera and classical music events in the town. The annual event lasts for a couple of weeks and is usually held in May. In recent years, the festival has broadened its appeal by adding comedy, rock and popular music acts to the bill.
In September 2005, the new 1600-seat Horsecross concert hall opened atop the former Horsecross Market. The state-of-the-art construction cost around £20 million, mostly donated as part of the UK millennium celebrations. It is located near the Kinnoull Street multi-storey car park and it backs up to the Fair Maid's House on Curfew Row.
Perth Theatre was established more than one hundred years ago and is located on the town's pedestrianised High Street. Perth was home to numerous cinemas during the previous century. Some were converted to other uses such as bingo halls but some have eventually disappeared altogether. The only remaining cinema is the Playhouse, on Murray Street, located outside two main bus station stances.
The sole newspaper based in the town is the Perthshire Advertiser owned by Trinity Mirror. Editorial, advertising sales, etc still have their offices in the Watergate but the newspaper is printed in Blantyre.
Hospital Radio Perth broadcasts to Perth Royal Infirmary and Murray Royal Hospitals. Hospital Radio Perth is the UK's most successful hospital broadcasters having been the Hospital Broadcasting Association UK Station of the Year in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2007. 
Perth has a number of popular architectural and historical attractions, most notably Scone Palace and St. John's Kirk. It is also the centre of the regimental Black Watch whose base is located on Dunkeld Road, near ASDA, and whose museum is located inside Balhousie Castle. The Castle, of medieval origins, and the seat of the Eviot family, was extensively altered and enlarged in the 19th century, and retains little of its original character.
During the Middle Ages, Perth's only parish church was the Burgh Kirk of St. John the Baptist. With the town centre dominated by this huge building, Perth is frequently referred to as 'Sanct John's Toun of Perth' (or variants) in old documents. The present church, though of much earlier origins, was constructed from the 15th century onwards. Though much altered, its tower and lead-clad spire continue to dominate the Perth skyline. The Church has lost its medieval south porch and sacristy, and the north transept was shortened during the course of the 19th century during street-widening. Another rare treasure, a unique survival in Scotland, is a 15th century brass candelabrum, imported from the Low Countries. The survival of this object is all the more remarkable as it includes a statuette of the Virgin Mary. St. John's Kirk also had the finest collection of post-Reformation church plate in Scotland (now housed permanently in Perth Museum and Art Gallery).
Two Historic Scotland properties within a short distance of the town are Huntingtower Castle, former seat of the Earls of Gowrie (open all year; entrance charge), and Elcho Castle, former seat of the Wemyss family (open in summer; entrance charge). Both are excellent examples of late medieval Scottish tower-houses, and are popular sites for weddings.
See main article: St. Johnstone F.C. and Perthshire RFC. St. Johnstone is the town's professional football club. Their home ground is McDiarmid Park, which is located on Crieff Road in the Tulloch area of the city. The team used to play at Muirton Park on the Dunkeld Road, five minutes from the town centre, but the ground was sold in the early 1990s to the ASDA chain. There are two other football clubs based in Perth, both of junior grade: Jeanfield Swifts and Kinnoull.
Between 1995 and 1998 the Caledonia Reds played some of their home matches in Perth at McDiarmid Park before they were merged with Glasgow Warriors. Today Perthshire RFC is the town's rugby union side, and it is based at the North Inch next to Bell's Sports Centre. They currently play in the BT Premiership Division Three for rugby union in Scotland.Perth Leisure Pool, to the west of the railway station on the Glasgow Road, is the town's swimming centre. The modern leisure pool complex was built in the mid 1980s to replace the traditional public swimming baths (established 1887 ) which used to sit just off the Dunkeld Road.
Perth Racecourse is located within the grounds of Scone Palace (3 miles/5 km by road from the city centre), and holds regular horse racing meetings as well as other outdoor events.
There is a large sports complex, Bell's Sports Centre, to the northwest of the town centre, at the western edge of the North Inch. Prior to the building of the Greenwich Dome, it was the largest domed building in the UK. An identical structure exists at Lexington High School in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA. Perth hosts Scotland's largest volleyball event every May - the Scottish Open Volleyball Tournament. There is a highly-competitive indoor competition held inside Bell's Sports Centre alongside both a competitive and fun outdoor event played on the town's North Inch. Teams competing traditionally camp alongside the outdoor courts with the campsite being administered by local cadets. The Scottish Volleyball Association's annual general meeting is also held at the same time as tournament.
The Dewar's Centre, which includes an eight-lane ice rink, has long been a main centre of curling in Scotland. Many top teams compete in this arena and many major events are held here each year. Curling is available from September to April annually. There is an indoor bowling hall, hosting major competitions. Historically Perth had a successful ice hockey team, Perth Panthers, who played at the old ice rink on Dunkeld Road. The rink at Dewars is the wrong shape for ice hockey, so when the team reformed in 2000 for 2 seasons they played their home games at Dundee Ice Arena.
The North Inch is located directly to the north of the city centre. It is bordered to the south by Charlotte Street and Atholl Street and to the southwest by Rose Terrace. Its western perimeter consists of part of the exercise path that circumnavigates the entire park. The River Tay bounds it to the east. A little farther to the north is the Inch's eponymous golf course.
Situated half a mile south of the North Inch, directly across the city centre, is the South Inch. The Inches are linked by Tay Street, which runs along the western banks of the Tay. The South Inch is bordered to the north by Marshall Place and Kings Place; to the east by Shore Road; to the south by South Inch View; and to the west by St Leonards Bridge. The Edinburgh Road passes through its eastern third.The South Inch offers various activities, including bowling, an adventure playground, a skatepark, and, in the summer, a bouncy castle. The Perth Show takes place annually on the section of the Inch between the Edinburgh Road and Shore Road.
Other public gardens such as Branklyn, Norie-Miller Riverside Walk and Cherrybank also exist. The Branklyn gardens - a National Trust for Scotland site - are located to the east of the River Tay consisting of 2acres of private gardens, predominantly featuring collections from China, Tibet, Bhutan and the Himalayas. Its centrepiece is its collection of Himalayan blue poppies. Norie-Miller, Riverside Walk is situated between Perth Bridge and Queen's Bridge and known locally as the "Middle Inch", the Norie-Miller Riverside Walk features a sculpture trail. The walk ends close to Branklyn Garden. The Cherrybank Gardens are home to Europe's largest collections of heathers, known as "The Bell's National Heather Collection". The gardens are sponsored by the Bell's Scotch Whisky brand.
There are many schools in Perth, including St. John's Primary, Kinnoull Primary, St. Ninians Primary, Tulloch Primary, Viewlands Primary, Oakbank Primary School, Perth Academy, Perth High School, St. Columba's and Perth Grammar School.
Further and higher education - including a range of degrees - is available through Perth College, one of the largest partners in the UHI Millennium Institute.
Perth College runs a network of learning centres across the area, in Blairgowrie, Crieff (a joint project with Perth & Kinross Council), Kinross, Pitlochry, and Pathways in Perth. It also owns AST (Air Service Training) which delivers a range of aeronautical engineering courses.
In March 2007, Perth became the first place in Scotland to join the European Cittaslow movement which assesses towns and cities against sixty different criteria regarding quality of life for residents and visitors.