Edinburgh, the Cosmopolitan Capital city of Scotland, that seems to hang onto a craggy rock face has to be one of the most stunning cities to visit in the World. This magical city that every August opens its doors to the world to the Edinburgh Festival, is a truly breathtaking place to visit and stay in. From the Royal Mile and magnificent Castle on the south side of the city to the sweeping grandeur and shopping heaven of Princes Street on the north, this compact city is easy to move around and get about in and has so much to see and do.
The first glimpse of Edinburgh is one that you will never forget, from the amazing few of Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh’s historic Castle dominating the skyline to the grand Georgian town houses and medieval streets. This is a city that longs to be explored, to have its cobbled streets walked down whilst you soak up the rich history and heritage that is every where you turn. With so much to see and do in Edinburgh and its surrounding countryside where do you begin? But begin you must, so lets take a step back in time and discover some of Edinburgh’s amazing history….
What to Do In Edinburgh – 5 Must See Attractions
Whether your idea of history is reliving the past through stunning art work, beautiful buildings or heart racing terror on a ghost hunt, Edinburgh has it all for you to enjoy.
Sitting on top of Castle Rock, which formed after a volcano erupted over 340 million years ago, Edinburgh Castle has been standing proud since the 12th Century. The Castle has been a military base, a royal residence and even a prison during its long and turbulent history.
It saw heavy battle in 1571 when England lay siege to the City to capture Mary Queen of Scot’s in what became known as ‘ the long’ or ‘lang’ siege which lasted for two years. Then in 1650 Cromwell’s Army invaded Scotland after the execution of King Charles 1st and the castle fell into English hands where it has remained ever since despite various attempts to reclaim it for Scotland.
Now the Castle is one of the countries biggest tourist attractions. The view from the castle walls are stunning and give a panoramic vision of Edinburgh below. During the late Summer months the military tatoos are held within the Castle and are always well worth attending if you are about at the time. Whilst inside the Castle you can visit The Stone of Destiny which is situated in The Crown Room as well as The Crown Jewell’s, a breath-taking site that also lie in The Crown Room.
If you are around at 1.00 pm be prepared for Cannon fire as everyday the One O’Clock gun fires from the battlement in a tradition that dates back to 1861 when mariners sitting on the Firth of Forth used the gun fire to set their chronometers when heading out to sea.
Mary King’s Close
If you prefer your history to have a few shocks and thrills then embark on a tour of Mary King’s Close. This famous site situated in the warren of underground streets and passage ways in the old streets of Edinburgh has featured on many television programmes over the years and has many tales of ghost haunting’s, as well as many a sad tale to tell.
Named after a prominent business woman in the 1630’s, Mary King, the Close now attracts people from all over the world wanting to experience life as it would have been many hundreds of years ago and with the hope of glimpsing a tortured soul from the past along the way.
The Edinburgh Dungeon.
Another must see attraction for tales of horror and gore is The Edinburgh Dungeon situated on Market Street. Once inside you will be taken on a tour of 1000 years of Scottish history. This unique attraction uses actors and rides to bring to life the truly terrifying history of Scotland and some of the most infamous rouges and villains ever to have been born. If you are looking for 80 minutes of thrills and
chills this is an experience not to be missed.
The official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, Holyrood Palace dates back to the 16th Century. Positioned at the bottom of the Royal Mile the Palace was built between 1671-1678. The grounds of Holyrood Park that the palace and garden are situated in extend to 10 acres.
The Queen is always in residence at the Palace during Holyrood week which takes place from the end of June to the beginning of July and during this week the Presentation of the Keys of the City of Edinburgh take place, an ancient ceremony that is performed in front of 700 guests.The palace has various rooms open to the public including 17th Century Kings apartments, the Great Gallery and the 16th Century apartments in the North West Tower.
The Royal Mile.
No visit to Edinburgh can be completed without going to the South of the City and taking a stroll down The Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is the name that has been given to the old town of Edinburgh that runs for approximately one Scots mile going between the Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace at the other.
It is on the Royal Mile that you will discover The Heart of Lothian, a heart-shaped mosaic that has been built into the pavement situated near Parliament House and was once a site where executions took place. I advise you to be careful when passing the Heart of Lothian as a tradition still carried on to this day is to spit on the heart. Although this is now done as a sign of good luck, at one time it was a sign of disdain for when in the Prison had been there.
The Royal Mile is a wonderful place to stroll through and to soak up the atmosphere of this most favourite of cities. The eclectic mix of bars and resturants, shops and tourist attractions make this a tourist highlight. It really comes alive when the Festival starts in August when entertainment spills right out onto the streets.