Edinburgh Castle

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Edinburgh Castle
Historic Scotland

As well as being Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attraction, this centuries-old structure has become one of the most enduring icons of the Scottish capital

Edinburgh Castle is the one of the most definitive landmarks in the United Kingdom and the most popular paid-for tourist attraction in Scotland. Built into the Castle Rock, a dormant volcanic cliff face in the heart of the city, it’s approached from the east at the least steep incline by the Royal Mile, a scenic and bustling thoroughfare used by street performers during August’s Edinburgh Festival, which cuts through the Old Town to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament at its foot. Also standing before the Castle is the Esplanade, a large open square which is filled with banks of seating to accommodate the Castle Concerts in July and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August.

Castle Rock has been settled since the second century, and there has been a Royal palace on the site from the twelfth century until the 1603 Union of the Crowns with James IV of Scotland’s ascension to the English throne as James I (James’ mother Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to him in the Castle’s Royal Palace in 1566). In subsequent centuries its use became more military in nature, while its current status as a tourist attraction looks back on both its Royal and military history.

Within the Castle are multiple smaller attractions, including the twelfth century St Margaret’s Chapel, reputedly the oldest building in Edinburgh, and the ‘Crown Square’ of Royal palaces and halls. Much of the castle dates from the sixteenth century, although there is a much newer Victorian military barracks on one imposing outcrop, in an area which also comprises the National War Museum of Scotland. Other attractions include Mons Meg, a fifteenth century siege gun, and the traditional One O’Clock Gun, a single-gun artillery volley fired from the ramparts at the same time every day, while the Crown Jewels (the crown, sceptre and sword of state) and the Stone of Destiny, traditionally used for knighting kings of Scotland, are also on display.

Venue name: Edinburgh Castle
Contact:
Address: Castlehill
Edinburgh
EH1 2NG
Transport: Rail: Edinburgh Waverley
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Photosbysooz
Tastemaker

What an awesome place, the Scots certainly knew how to make an impressive castle back in the day. Built upon the 'Castle Rock', part of an ancient extinct volcano, the castle reigns high above the city and, as a result, has fantastic views of Edinburgh and beyond.

The site itself is large, encompassing The Great Hall, a chapel, dungeons and cellars, weaponry, a war memorial, statues, museums, the Royal Palace and Crown Room - full of jewels. 

You can choose to pay extra for an audio guide, or just wander and explore at your pace taking in the great architecture and panorama. Great for photos, if you're lucky enough to be there on sunny day.

During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (and probably at other touristy seasons - Christmas?) it's busy and I highly recommend buying tickets online to skip the queues. If you can, go on a dry day, as lots of it is outside, allow a few hours (take some refreshments - the tea-room is very expensive) and, of course, don't forget your camera.

Tom
moderatorStaff Writer

Great way to steep yourself in Scottish history, whilst at the same time getting your bearings of the city. It doesn't get much more Scottish than this.