Be sure to walk around the exquisite gardens as well — though wrap up warm, and bring an umbrella...
Holyrood palace is the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland. Together with Edinburgh Castle, these two grand edifices bookend the Royal Mile in some style. Initially founded as a monastery in 1128, the palace as it is today was built in the 17th century. Queen Elizabeth still spends one week there at the beginning of each summer to carry out a range of official ceremonies. However, when not being used by the Royal Family it is open to the public.
A bloody past
Holyrood Palace is perhaps most famous for serving as the home of the Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th century. Here she spent six years debating with the protestant reformer John Knox and going through a couple of husbands. A highlight is Mary’s Bed Chamber, with its secret stairway to her husband’s bedroom. This was also where her jealous first husband Lord Darnley restrained her while his henchmen murdered one of her favourites, Rizzio. A plaque marks the spot where he bled to death.
You’ll never break the chain
Holyrood Palace’s Great Gallery houses 89 portraits of Scottish kings. Commissioned by Charles II, he wished to demonstrate his unbroken lineage from Scota, the Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter who reputedly found the infant Moses in his reed basket on the bank of the Nile. Mad as a box of frogs.
The naked ghost of one Agnes Sampson, who was stripped and tortured in 1592 after being accused of witchcraft, allegedly roams the palace. She was accused of summoning the storms that beset James VI’s regal voyage back from Denmark after marrying Queen Anne.
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