Choose a day without fog to visit so you can enjoy the panoramic views from the ramparts
Edinburgh Castle, perched above dark crags of Castle Rock, rules the city’s skyline. The place feels ancient, and archaeological digs have indicated that humans have lived there since the Iron Age. The royal castle has been in place since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, but over the years its role has evolved. Initially a royal residence, by the 17th century it was mainly used for military purposes, and now its one of the most prized and iconic tourist sights in Scotland.
The Entrance Gateway is flanked by statues of the national heroes Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. The castle remains a living, working environment and holds a maze of cobbled pathways that transport you through history. Inside the walls you will find the Royal Palace and Great Hall, the Crown Jewels, the National War Museum of Scotland, and the Romanesque St Margaret’s Chapel, which dates from the 12th century and is thought to be the oldest building in Edinburgh.
Following the Act of Union in 1707, when the Kingdoms of Scotland and England were united to form Great Britain, Scotland’s crown jewels were locked away in a chest and forgotten, until they were unearthed at the request of the novelist Sir Walter Scott in 1818. The crown was made in 1540 from the gold of Robert the Bruce’s 14th century coronet. Along with the sword and sceptre, these treasures can now be seen by visitors.
Edinburgh Castle holds still more treasures for military buffs. Get there in time for the one-o-clock gun and you can enjoy the boom of a gleaming WWII 25-pounder. Next to St. Margaret’s Cathedral sits Mons Meg, a colossal medieval bombard with a 20 inch barrel diameter. Meg probably saw a lot of use: recent research concluded that Edinburgh Castle has endured 26 sieges in its roughly one thousand year history, making it the most besieged place in Great Britain.
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