Submitted by George Farquhar on Sat, 2011-04-23
A mighty fortress, the defender of the nation, and a world-famous visitor attraction – Edinburgh Castle has dominated the skyline for centuries. And the high volcanic rock on which it stands has been occupied for thousands of years.
The castle’s powerful stone walls have withstood many sieges, and its sumptuous apartments were an important residence of Scottish kings and queens.
Today it is home to Scotland’s crown jewels, three military museums, the National War Memorial, the Prisons of War exhibition, and much more besides.
With more than a million visitors a year, from across the globe, the castle offers a fabulous day out – an experience not to be missed.
This ‘stronghold of Eidyn’ was first recorded before 600AD. By the Middle Ages, it had become a mighty fortification and the favoured residence of Scotland’s kings and queens.
Many great moments of Scottish history have taken place here. In 1140 the castle became the first recorded meeting place of the Scottish Parliament. In 1566, it was the birthplace of the son of Mary Queen of Scots, who grew up to be King of both Scotland and England. And in 1745, it saw its final siege when the garrison held out against Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobites.
You must see Scotland’s Crown Jewels, The Honours of Scotland, which are amongst the oldest in Europe. Also see the Stone of Destiny, this ancient coronation seat of kings was used for 400 years before being taken to London in 1296 by the invading English army. It was returned to Scotland in 1996.
Edinburgh Castle is one of 345 heritage sites in the care of Historic Scotland. Ranging from prehistoric settlements to palaces, including some of the country’s leading tourism attractions.
Top 10 Highlights
There is a lot to experience inside the castle walls. Here are our top 10 recommendations:
- The Crown Room and The Stone of Destiny where the nation’s treasures are kept.
- The Great Hall holds a fabulous display of arms and armour and the ‘key’ to the castle.
- Royal Palace created in 1617 in honour of James VI.
- St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh, built to commemorate the mother of David.
- The Prisons of War is an atmospheric recreation of the life of prisoners at the end of the 18th century.
- Mons Meg is one of Europe’s oldest siege guns that fired stones weighing 150kg (330lbs) over 3.2km (two miles).
- The One o’Clock Gun is the famous cannon which has been fired almost daily since 1861.
- The National War Memorial is a shrine to those who gave their lives in conflicts from World War I onwards.
- The National War Museum of Scotland, and individual regimental museums.
- Panoramic views across the capital, over the Firth of Forth and into Fife, which can be enjoyed from the castle’s walls.
In World War II, Scotland’s Crown Jewels were secretly buried in David’s Tower to prevent them falling into enemy hands.
- Marvel at the strength of this military stronghold and see the extent of its firepower
- Follow in royalty’s footsteps in the chamber where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth and the Great Hall, where monarchs feasted
- Remarkable places where kings, queens and noblemen lived, entertained and worshipped
- Dismal dungeons where countless prisoners were held over the centuries explore
Top of the Royal Mile, 15 minutes walk from Waverley Station and Princes Street
Gifts & Refreshments
- The castle’s three gift shops sell a wide range of high quality souvenirs, books and gifts
- The comfortable Redcoat Café and stylish Queen Anne Café offer two dining options
Enjoying a visit
- Visitors who may find some of the castle’s steep inclines or steps difficult can take advantage of our courtesy vehicle
- A guided tour is included with your ticket
- Audio guides in 8 languages (for hire)
- Ask about our children’s trail
All year. 1 Apr – 31 Oct9:30am to 6pm. 1 Nov – 31 Mar9:30am to 5pm. Last ticket sold45 mins before closing. ClosedChristmas Day and Boxing Day.Opening times for independent museums may vary. Parking for disabled visitors only.Contact: Tel: 0131 225 9846 or visit www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
Avoid The Queues
Fast track tickets are available to buy online in advance. To book now visit www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
The castle hosts a variety of special entertainments and events throughout the year, including regular performances by costumed storytellers who bring the castle’s past to life. It is also the familiar backdrop to the famous Hogmanay fireworks and Military Tattoo.
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