<p>Stirling (Gaelic: Sruighlea pronounced [ˈs̪t̪ruʝlə]) is a city and former ancient burgh in Scotland, and is at the heart of the wider Stirling council area. The city is clustered around a large fortress and medieval old-town beside the River Forth. Historically it was strategically important as the "Gateway to the Highlands", with its position near the boundary between the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, and its crossing of the Forth, the nearest to the river mouth.
Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling contains the Great Hall (restored 1999) and the Renaissance Palace (restoration completed 2011) within the Castle that rivalled any building in Europe at the time. Stirling also has its medieval parish church, The Church of the Holy Rude, where King James VI was crowned King of Scots on 29 July 1567. The Holy Rude still functions as living church with a service every Sunday.
Stirling is a centre for local government, higher education, retail, and light industry. Its population in 2008 was 33,710, for Stirling itself, the wider urban area including Bridge of Allan and Bannockburn has a population of 45,750. This makes it the smallest city in Scotland: indeed it is smaller than many</p>