Edinburgh Castle is a must-see for most visitors to Scotland. If Edinburgh is your port of entry into Scotland, you’ll catch a glimpse of the castle whether you visit it or not. It’s an iconic castle and is highly worth the visit.
The Edinburgh Castle was built in the 12th century – although it may not have looked like it does today. It stands atop the Castle Rock, a volcanic ‘rock’ that dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. In the city centre, you can usually orient yourself by finding the castle. The castle used to be a royal residence until the ‘Union of the Crowns’ in the early 1600s. The architecture makes it a more traditional fortress, as well as it’s location.
BEFORE THE VISIT
The castle is under the control of Historic Scotland, an agency of the Scottish government that has control over many of the history buildings and sites around the country. Admission costs £16 for adults. Students sadly do not fall under the category of concession, for some reason. It is open between 9:30am- 5pm during the winter, and until 6pm in the summer time. I personally recommend arriving early because the queue can get ridiculous – or prebook your tickets online. Better yet – sign up for a Historic Scotland membership, which allows you to skip the line and go in for ‘free’.
DURING THE VISIT
After queueing forever, you will be allowed in to the beautiful fortress. The first thing most people do is stop by the main rampart that faces the city to take photos. I was lucky enough to have beautiful weather the day I visited the castle in May 2013, and so we could see very far, even into Fife.
If you keep walking just a little, you’ll fall on the big canon that is used for the one o’clock gun (I don’t know why they actually say gun when it’s a canon, but anyhow). I didn’t witness it when I was at the castle, but it is on my list of things to witness/do in Edinburgh, since it has been a tradition since the 1860s.
If you keep going straight onto a small square at the far west of the castle, you will come upon the National War Museum and another rampart from which to admire the west end of the city. While I’m not one for much interest in war stuff, the museum could be very interesting for history buffs!
If you retrace your steps and keep on the main walkway of the castle, you will come upon the Regimentals Museums. I do believe we went into this one. Although it is focused on war, I always find it touching to see actual memorabilia and personal items from back in the day.
From there you keep walking up, and through the Foog’s Gate. On your left will be, my personal favourite building of the castle, St Margaret’s Chapel.
The chapel is the oldest surviving building from the castle – it was built as a private place of worship for the king of the time. I can’t remember if there were any photos allowed inside, so sadly I don’t have any for you. But it was beautiful! And if there had been much less people inside, I think I would have adored this place even more!
From there you can sneak into Crown Square – which was also a favourite part of my day. There you can find the Royal Palace, which contains the crown jewels and the real Stone of Destiny (remember how I saw the fake one in Scone?). I was super intrigued to see the stone, especially after seeing the movie about the story of the students who stole it from Westminster.
In the square you can also find the Scottish National War Museum, the Prisons of War and the Great Hall.
I’m unsure we kept on visiting everything, because by that point we were starving. So we dashed into the Tea Rooms to see what they had to offer – and that is when I had my first afternoon tea ever! Very delicious and you can read a more in-depth review here.
After enjoying our hot tea and delicious finger sandwiches and pastries, we headed out and started to make our way down toward the exit, admiring and taking photos at the same time.
All in all, I thought the castle was superb! I don’t know if I would have been up to pay the £16 for it to be completely honest, but since I had my membership I was more than happy to follow my friends along and head to one of Edinburgh’s most iconic sights.
Have you ever been to Edinburgh Castle?xx