Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, photo and description

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle an ancient fortress in the center of Edinburgh – open to the public, is a tourist attraction of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle is one of the few castles in Scotland that has not been under the pervasive influence of France and has not been converted into a palace residence. Completely combat-ready and in excellent for its respectable age condition, the fortress, even after the Second World War, belonged to the official fortifications and was subordinated to the military departments of Britain.

In the late 1970s, Edinburgh Castle received the status of a civilian site, and it was open to tourists. The number of visitors to Edinburgh Castle rivals even the Tower and the Palace of Westminster, and therefore it can be safely called a “visiting card” of Scotland.

The architecture of the castle can not but impress: the walls, built of rounded boulders, tall towers, decorations are almost absent. Austere and austere, like the Highlanders of Scotland, this castle carefully preserves the history of the country within its walls. It is worth noting that the territory of the castle is very vast, and to walk around the main local beauty, it will take several hours.

To see all the sights may take a day, but if you do not have that time – it is better to visit a pearl of the castle.

First of all, the Great Ceremonial Hall and the House of Regalia, in which the glory of many heroes and kings of Scotland is commemorated, are worth a visit. There’s also one of the largest military museums in the United Kingdom. The huge number of guns, rifles, armor, swords and other military equipment, accumulated over the centuries in endless battles, will not leave indifferent any lover of arms. Those who appreciate the exhibition will also be curious to visit the Crescent Moon Battery, a fortification that has been the castle’s main line of defense for centuries. The battery is replete with cannons, and a ceremonial salute is thundered nearby every day at 1 p.m.

Panoramic walk around Edinburgh Castle

The exhibition of royal treasures is also breathtaking in its splendor. The crown of Scotland, a sword of kings and the Stone of Destiny, with which monarchs swore at their initiation and conferral of title, are considered to be the main treasures of the collection.

The Stone of Destiny, also called the Skunk Stone, deserves special attention of visitors. This relic is a block of simple sandstone. The fact that this rock is found nowhere else in Britain is curious, and there are many stories and legends associated with it. Legend has it that it was the stone that served as a pillow for the biblical Jacob, who dreamt of a ladder he named Jacob’s Steps.

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Another version of the legend has it that the stone was brought to Albion by Scott, the daughter of Ramses II, who wandered the world for more than a thousand years in search of the Promised Land. According to legend, the Scots, who referred to themselves as Scotts, took her name. Judging by this, Scotta did find heaven on earth in Scotland.

But anyhow, these and other legends about the stone name the north of Africa as its birthplace, which is quite curious. The stone really means a lot to Scotland, for it would be absurd to carry a simple boulder all the way from there. Interestingly, the stone has been stolen many times, but all attempts have failed. However, a few students simply managed to carry the stone out of the castle. The clumsy students fell out of the hands of the stone and it splintered. The thieves were not confused and simply glued the halves to the stonemason.

The stone was later returned, but to avoid embarrassing the guard, Elizabeth II spread the story about mystical sects who had been trying to get hold of the stone for years. Meanwhile, the timing of the stone’s split coincided with the beginning of the split of the British Empire. The connection between the stone and the fate not only of Scotland, but of the entire kingdom, is obvious. That is why a visit to this relic is a must on tours and self-guided tours.

Everyone who happens to be in Britain on holiday, one way or another, is interested in the history of the Kingdom. You will never find a better place to explore the country than Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is the main castle-fortress of Scotland located at the top of Castle Mountain in the heart of the capital – old Edinburgh. It dominates all the surroundings as it grows organically out of an 80-meter high hill.

The complex on the mountain has been remarkably well preserved, despite years of service, not just as a royal residence but as a veritable fortress: impregnable and reliable, it has been the city’s main defence and the “key to the country” for centuries. Its dense masonry of varying shades of dark stones and its exact correspondence to the modern concept of a medieval castle are impressive.

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Visiting it when visiting Edinburgh is a major must-visit: how do you like the idea of walking where kings, great generals and famous writers once walked? It’s worth the climb, if only for the unparalleled views of the city and the Firth of Forth Bay from its walls. Allow at least half a day for more in-depth exploration: there are several history museums in the fortress which tell the story of the country from its very founding to the present day, and which house some of Scotland’s most important national treasures.

Edinburgh Castle

History

Edinburgh Castle’s history is impressive in its length and richness, but also in the unresolved issues of controversy among prominent historians. Excavations are still being conducted on its territory and what is found raises new questions about the historical past of the settlements rather than gives clear answers.

For instance, there were earlier preconditions for the foundation of the castle in this location, but exactly when and in what form it was built is not known with certainty. It is assumed that in prehistoric times, a thousand years BC, the ancient tribes took fancy to this place on a high mountain, which would protect them from wild animals or enemies. The first mention of any buildings here dates back to BC – Welsh poetry speaks of the Din Eidyn fortress and the castle to the early 11th century, during the reign of King David I, who convened the Parliament here.

The subsequent history is much more extensive and would require more than one volume: the castle was constantly rebuilt and adapted to military realities, passed from hand to hand from one English king to another, and then repeatedly returned to the Scottish rulers.

The Scots wanted independence, while the English saw Scotland as their own part. And only in the middle of XVIII century the last battle of dissenters took place near the fortress walls with the final transfer of Scotland to Great Britain in 1707.

Edinburgh Castle

After that the fortress was used as a prison unsuccessfully: in 1811 as many as 49 dangerous prisoners all at once escaped from here and after that the authorities moved the prison to another place and the castle was made a monument of architecture.

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In 1818 the writer Walter Scott found here the real jewels and the crown of Scotland, earlier considered to be lost. From the beginning of the 30s of the XIX century the territory of the fortress and its buildings were available for tourists, and towards the end of the century it acquired the composition and outline that we can see at present.

The Castle Inside

Inside Edinburgh Castle there are a number of attractions.

The way up here is through a wide street, the Esplanade. The Royal Edinburgh Parade of Military Bands, which marches to music in national costumes, is held here every year. Of course, the most impressive and significant is the band of pipers and drummers.

The tallest building in the castle complex is the Royal Palace. It was not a permanent home for royalty, not everyone liked it, so perhaps the interiors are not the most luxurious, and something has not been preserved at all, but here are the royal regalia and another amazing artifact – the Stone of Destiny, which is a large block of sandstone weighing 152 kg and about three thousand years old. Many rulers of the kingdom were crowned on it.

St Margaret's Chapel

The tall stone house in the fortress is the chapel of St Margaret, the wife of Malcolm III, who was elevated to the rank of saint.

But it still performs its functions, and even unusual wedding ceremonies are held there, where the groom appears in the national costume of his clan.

Many buildings and objects in the castle refer to the military theme: there are several military museums and various cannons.

A special local pride is the huge giant cannon Mons Meg. It was made in the middle of the XV century and served until the middle of the XVI century. The six-ton cannon is capable of shooting 150-kg stone cannonballs to a distance of 3.2 kilometers. Because of its weight it was an impossible task to move it even with a herd of oxen, so its movement in hostilities was limited to 5 km a day. The ceremonial volley was fired from the bombardment on the occasion of the wedding in 1558 of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and in 1681 the last shot was fired from it – the cannon was cracked from overloading.

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The other, the Clock Cannon, has been used since 1861 at the instigation of businessman John Hewitt to correct the time of ships in the bay, and simply for the people of the town. Now it is little more than a tradition: every day, with the exception of a few days a year, a shot is fired from the cannon at exactly 1 p.m. Over the years several cannons have been in her role.

Edinburgh Castle

Many military exhibits are presented indoors.

The National War Museum houses various artifacts from Scotland’s military times: officers’ letters, weapons, uniforms and costumes. There was formerly a military hospital here, replacing an ammunition depot once built in the 1700s.

In the Museum of the Scottish Guards Dragoons, the elite royal troops that existed since the 17th century, there is the main trophy – the French imperial eagle, captured by the Scots at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. One can also see here a portrait of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II. Queen Victoria granted him the title of honorary colonel of the Grey Dragoons, and he sent her in return his portrait in the traditional red dragoon uniform.

Opposite the museum there is a museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and nearby the Scottish National War Memorial in memory of those who died in the conflicts of the 20th century. There are also dungeons for prisoners of war, a Victorian-era garrison prison and even a cemetery for the garrison officers’ dogs – all accessible for viewing.

Wax figures in scenes in a museum

Buy Tickets

To avoid lines at the entrance, both the administration of the castle and many visitors are advised to buy tickets in advance online. At the same time choose the time of entry to the castle. Tickets for the morning from 09:30-10:00 should be booked no later than the previous day, and for the next time – no later than 1.5 hours.

Admission costs £18.00/£21.00 online for adults from 16 years old, £11.00/£12.50 for children from 5 to 15 years old, children under 5 years old are free. Discounts are available for holders of various museum cards for Scotland, such as Historic Scotland.

The cost includes a sightseeing tour in English every half hour in summer and every hour in winter. Audio guides in different languages, including Russian, are available for £3.50 for an adult and £1.50 for a child.

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View of Castle Hill from the city below

Opening hours

The Castle is open every day from 09:30 to 18:00 (April 1 to September 30) or 10:00 to 16:00 (October 1 to March 31), except December 25 and 26. Note that different objects on the territory of the fortress are closed at different times.

Since the castle is located on a hill and blows a lot, in bad weather it may be closed. This information is reflected on the castle’s website https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/plan-your-visit/opening-times. Tickets purchased for that day are valid for two more days and are automatically refunded if the visit is not possible.

Service

On the territory of the castle, visitors can have a hearty meal or tea in two cafes, buy national gifts in three souvenir stores, one of which is also available online. There are restrooms available.

For visitors with disabilities, there is an auto-delivery service on steep sections, and some rooms are equipped with elevators.

Museum Building

How to get there

Edinburgh Castle is located at the end of Castlehill St., at the top of a mountain that will require climbing. It’s a central part of the city and also home to many iconic important national sites and attractions: the National Museum and Gallery of Scotland, the Whiskey Heritage Center, the Writers’ Museum – Burns, Stevenson, Walter Scott and many others.

Edinburgh Waverley, Edinburgh’s main train station, is also half a kilometer from the castle. So, it’s convenient to come here to see the castle even from the suburbs of Edinburgh or other cities in the country.

The nearest bus stop to the castle is Mound Place on nearby Cuthill Street. Routes passing here are No. 23, 27, 41, 42, and 67.

More traffic will be at the farther “South Bridge” stop: Buses #5, 7, 8, 14, 35, 45, 49, N7, X95, where you’ll have to turn off into High Street and walk a mile to the castle along the so-called Royal Mile – High Street, Lonmarket, and Castlehill Streets.

When arriving by car, you can park near the castle at Castle Terrace and Johnston Terrace. The parking lots offer discounts on tickets to the castle.

The cabs in Edinburgh are represented by cars of different brands and colors, there is no single style. You can book at specialized parking lots, by phone or online, such as Airport Taxis Edinburgh, Central Taxis, CityCab, FestivalCars.

Panorama: view from one of the castle observation decks on Castle Hill

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