The Signet Library offers an outstanding lunch in a special setting, surrounded by books in a library considered among the finest in the world by George IV
Parliament Square is found on the High Street, part of the famous Royal Mile which runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. The Royal Mile is the central artery of Edinburgh’s history and culture, described in 1848 as “the busiest and most populous nook of the ancient capital”, and Parliament Square plays a large role in that.
In the 1700s Parliament Square was the hub of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Parliament house was built on the square in 1632, lending it its name. Scottish Parliament sat here until 1707 when members were moved to Westminster following the Act of Union. The square also holds a statue of the Merry Monarch King Charles II, who also ruled Scotland between those dates, if only for a brief time. At the time, it was the first lead statue in Britain.
Parliament Square also looks onto St Giles’ Cathedral, the heart of Christianity in Scotland. It’s spires dominate the city’s skyline, and the interior is equally spectacular with the beautiful Thistle Chapel and a forbidding statue of John Knox. Knox was a key figure in the Scottish Reformation, and a visit to St Giles’ is a must for anyone interested in this fascinating episode in Scottish history.
During the Edinburgh Festival the square is thick with vendors and performers, as it must have been in the 17th century. One building is obviously missing though: the notorious prison, the Old Tolbooth. Now there is a heart-shaped mosaic on the pavement where it once was. Ever since, locals have spat on its centre for luck.
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