The modern name Aberdeen actually means between the Don and the Dee - the two local rivers and the motto of the city is the French 'Bon Accord' and translates as for "Good Agreement". During the late 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries Aberdeen's constructions were made of locally quarried grey granite, whose mica deposits shimmer like silver. The granite was used to form Waterloo Bridge in London and the terraces of the Houses of Parliament.
Aberdeen Harbour is important as the largest in the north of Scotland and as a ferry route to Orkney and Shetland. Created in 1136, it has been mentioned as the oldest business in Britain.
The historic industries of shipbuilding, fishing and textiles have been left behind by the oil industry and Aberdeen's seaport. The Aberdeen Maritime Museum, in Shiprow, tells the story of Aberdeen's bonds with the sea from the days of sail and clipper ships to the newest oil and gas exploration technology.
The city’s continual growth is ever present. In 2009 a new retail development was built in Union Square.
Symbols of the city typically show three castles, as shown on the coat of arms and the flag. The image has been around since the time of Robert the Bruce and they represent the buildings that lay on the three hills of Aberdeen at the time of Robert the Bruce; Aberdeen Castle on Castle Hill; an unknown building on Windmill Hill and a church on St. Catherine's Hill.
Aberdeen has won many awards, including the Britain in Bloom competition a record-breaking ten times and hosts the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, a major international event which attracts up to 1000 of the most gifted youth performing arts companies.
The city also won the Royal Horticultural Society's Britain in Bloom 'Best City' award ten times, twenty times for Scotland overall in the Bloom contest and every year since 1968 the large city division.
Aberdeen has many parks, including Hazlehead Park, located on the outskirts of the city, most popular with sports enthusiasts and naturalists. There are football pitches, two golf courses, a pitch and putt course and a horse riding school. Johnston Gardens is a little park of one hectare in the west end of the city composed of many varying plants and flowers. In 2002, the garden was named the best garden in the British Islands.
For the parks most commonly used for field sports, Victoria Park and Westburn Park cover 26 acres between them. Victoria Park opened in 1871 with Westburn Park opening later in 1901. It features a large tennis centre with outdoor and indoor courts, a children's cycle track and play area and a grass boules lawn.
For other recreational activities, Aberdeen caters for much more, including the Beach Leisure Centre which possesses a gymnasium, swimming pool and climbing wall and The Transition Extreme, designed by Aberdeen skate hero Andy Dobson.
Aberdeen City council also have an Outdoor Education service now acknowledged as Adventure Aberdeen. It supplies abseiling, surfing, gorge walking, white water rafting, open canoeing, kayaking, mountaineering, sailing, rock climbing and mountain biking. They promote learning through adventure and have many programmes for adults and children.
Art and music is also popular in the city. The Music Hall, built in 1822 on Union Street, is the most renowned concert hall and the Aberdeen Art Gallery houses a collection of Victorian and Scottish and twentieth century British paintings as well as collections of silver and glass.
Other cultural events in Aberdeen include the Aberdeen Jazz Festival, the International Youth Festival, the Rootin' Aboot (folk and roots music based at the Lemon Tree), Triptych and the University of Aberdeen's literature festival Word. The Aberdeen Student Show, performed annually since 1921 is the longest-running of its kind in the UK. It is written by students and graduates of Aberdeen's institutes of tertiary education, and since 1929 has been staged at His Majesty's Theatre.
The two universities in the city, the University of Aberdeen, established in 1495 and the Robert Gordon University, which was awarded university status in 1992, make Aberdeen the educational hub of north-east Scotland.
The University of Aberdeen hosted the Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival in March 2012, the longest operating folk festival in the UK. IVFDF is a university-run festival, run by a different university each year. Doric is the local dialect of Lowland Scots, and is spoken not just in the city but also across the north-east of Scotland. Each year the annual Doric Festival takes place in Aberdeenshire to celebrate the history of the north-east's language.