Thursday, July 5, 2012

Visit the Historic Edinburgh Castle in Scotland


The city of Edinburgh is a cultural hub for Scottish history, and there is so much to see and do. On my second day in Scotland, and my first full day in Edinburgh, my husband and I spent the morning on foot exploring some of the fascinating architecture and historical sites in Old Town. After lunch, we had saved several hours to explore the sprawling Edinburgh Castle, visible from nearly anywhere in Old Town.

Edinburgh Castle entrance in Edinburgh, Scotland

We arrived at about 12:30 p.m., and were happy to find that there was no line-up (or queue as the Scots like to say), and we quickly secured a ticket and audio set to assist us as we meandered through the castle grounds and various museums attached to it. Basic information for entrance to Edinburgh Castle: £16.00 per adult, plus another £3.50 if you want to grab an audio set. The castle is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the summer months, which is April to September, and then from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the rest of the year.

The rainy day didn't stop the steady flow of visitors to Edinburgh Castle

A helpful note: grab the Explorer Pass if you are planning on doing more than one or two Historic Scotland sites. We didn't for the Edinburgh Castle and sorely regretted it. The pass is £28.00 per adult for a five-day pass, although you only get three days to actually use the pass. (You can see sites three days in a row, or take a day off in-between, but after five days the pass expires.). With the pass, you get free entrance to a whole slew of Historic Scotland sites, as many as you can fit in during your three days. If you buy it before entering Edinburgh Castle, you've already paid for more than half the cost of the pass. I HIGHLY recommend buying the Explorer Pass. Here is the website for more info: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/explorer


The view of Edinburgh from the castle walls

Another helpful note: rather than spending your money on the audio tour of Edinburgh Castle, save your pounds and wait around for one of the free guided tours. The tour guides are fun and dynamic, and show you the most popular and relevant items and places. Joey and I both found the audio tour to be too random, detail-oriented, and totally information overload. You'd be listening to the headphones, but also be reading something, then get lost and have to rewind, or just give up listening altogether. It was somewhat of a waste of money.

Standing outside the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle

Moving on! The castle itself was spectacular, and we spent over three hours looking around at everything. So as not to give YOU information overload, I will just show you pics of some of my highlights with a brief description. To really understand how amazing Edinburgh Castle is, you would have to walk through it yourself.

The Honors - These relics from Scottish history have been stolen, recovered, lost and hidden, and recovered again. At one time, they were tucked away and hidden for over 100 years!

Scottish Honours
The honors, courtesy visitscotland.com, since I couldn't take my own pictures.


The Stone of Destiny - Many a Scottish king has been crowned while sitting astride this chunk of stone.

Scottish Stone of Destiny
The Stone of Destiny, from hedgedruid.com


Mary Queen of Scots' Bedroom - A stately room for a stately queen. It is told that she gave birth to James VI here, although really she popped him out in this closet room next door.

Mary Queen of Scots' bedroom in Edinburgh Castle

The actual room (closet) where James VI was born

Scottish National War Memorial - This somber and sobering place houses books upon books filled with names, all people who gave their lives fighting for freedom in various wars.

The Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

One o' Clock Gun - At one o'clock every day, this gun goes off, synchronizing with the clock tower up on Calton Hill.

The one o'clock gun at Edinburgh Castle

Military Museums (x2) - Edinburgh Castle has several military museums, each for different branches, and they are all chalk-full of interesting facts, artifacts, and activities.

Feelin' some Scottish muscles at the Military Museum at the Edinburgh Castle

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