UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature

The cows have arrived at the capital's CowParade, bringing with them Moo Moo Ramotswe, Edinburgh's very own literary cow. Celebrating the city's status as the world's first UNESCO City of Literature and sponsored by the charitable trust City of Literature and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Moo Moo is happily grazing in East Princes Street Gardens, in the shadow of the Walter Scott monument. Trot along to see her until 25 July, and see if you can figure out just which famous Scottish novels are featured curling round her bovine body...

Edinburgh was awarded City of Literature status to celebrate its rich literary heritage and thriving contemporary book scene. The City of Literature Trust works to raise the profile of books in everyday life, and to create a worldwide network of cities discovering their own literary identities.

The City of Literature designation - which is permanent - was the culmination of two years' work by a dedicated group of people working within the literature sector in Scotland, who had conceived and developed the idea and presented it to UNESCO for validation. This group had the support of the Scottish Executive, Scottish Arts Council and City of Edinburgh Council, and was seed funded by the Scottish Arts Council.

Edinburgh is often described as a city built on books. It has historically been a world centre of publishing – the first printing press in the city was set up in 1507, the Encylopaedia Britannica was founded and first published here, and Edinburgh writers have created literary characters with a worldwide following, from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan to Robert Louis Stevenson's archetype of duality, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Edinburgh has a rich literary history, a thriving contemporary scene and bold aspirations for the future. Here's what four of Edinburgh's writers have to say about the City of Literature:

J.K. Rowling: 'It's impossible to live in Edinburgh without sensing its literary heritage everywhere. It seems eminently sensible to me to recognise this, along with the contemporary literary life here, with a permanent title that can inspire and inform other places around the world.'

Dame Muriel Spark: 'The Edinburgh of my youth was always, by tradition, considered the home of reason, tolerance, enlightenment and literature. This feeling persists. Edinburgh is a city of books and learning, open to all knowledge.'

Ian Rankin: 'I feel part of a tradition which is as vibrant now as ever before. Edinburgh remains a city of the mind, a writer's city.'

Alexander McCall Smith: 'I am delighted that the literary associations of this city have been internationally recognised in this way. Such recognition is, I think, deserved, as outside interest in Scottish literature is at as high a level as it has ever been.'