Edinburgh: Castle on the Rock

The gardens inside the walls of the castle
The gardens inside the walls of the castle

We were lucky enough to be staying less than a five minute walk away from Edinburgh Castle and we certainly took advantage of the close proximity.

Tickets were a bit pricey for our student purses at £16 but it is the one place that you MUST go to when you visit Edinburgh.

The castle dominates Scotland’s capital city from its great rock and its story has helped shape the nation’s story.

Battles and sieges were fought over it, royalty lived and died within its walls, and countless generations have been inspired by it.

Fierce Iron Age warriors defended a hill fort here, and the nation’s oldest poetry tells of a war band feasting here for a year before riding to their deaths into battle.

The Scots and English struggled for control of the castle during the Wars of Independence. In 1314 it was recaptured from the English in a daring night raid led by Thomas Randolph, nephew of King Robert the Bruce.

The castle has sheltered many Scottish monarchs. They include Queen Margaret (later St Margaret), who died there in 1093, and Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566.

Her great-great-great grandson Charles Edward Stuart captured Edinburgh but was unable to take the castle during the 1745-6 Jacobite Rising.

In 1996, the Stone of Destiny, on which kings were enthroned for centuries, was returned to Scotland. It is now displayed in the Crown Room.

In the 1600s, the castle became a military base. Some buildings were rebuilt and new ones were raised to house a huge garrison – and provide a secure jail for prisoners of war.

The military presence remains unbroken, but over the last 200 years the castle has become a national icon. It is now Scotland’s leading tourist attraction, and a key element of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site.

The One o’clock Gun is fired at 1pm every day except Sunday. It is certainly a sight to be hold as the crowds gather to hear its roar. Even though you are expecting the noise it’s still a bit of shock when fired.

The tradition began in 1861 to provide ships in the Firth of Forth with an audible time signal to accompany the visual signal of the time-ball dropping at the top of the Nelson Monument. This helped shipping set the maritime clocks needed for navigation long before satellite navigation was available.

The castle and it’s surrounding buildings within the walls leave a lot to be discovered and I would suggest to wander around this wonderful building on a day that you have plenty of time so that you will not have to rush off.

Ticket lines are often long so I would advise to pre-book online if in any way possible.


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