Is Edinburgh Castle worth it?

A trip to the great castle on the rock offers history and understanding of both city and country – and views not to be forgotten.

Edinburgh Castle remains Scotland’s most visited tourist attraction – and for all good reason.

Perched high above the city, it is a window into the deep past of Edinburgh and, indeed, Scotland with the huge, sprawling complex serving once as a royal residence, fortress and barracks and now as a national monument.

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Walking up the cobbles of the Royal Mile towards thsi most imposing structure, it is clear that a trip into the heart of the castle will deliver a special experience. The views form the Esplanade quickly deliver just that as you get a sense of the city, its design and its geology as the vistas fan out north and south to both sea and hills. The one o’clock gun is fired almost every day, an old custom embedded deep in this living monument.

Moon over Edinburgh Castle.Moon over Edinburgh Castle.
Moon over Edinburgh Castle.
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Is Edinburgh Castle worth it?

You quickly get a sense why Edinburgh Castle – and the rock on which is stands – has played an important strategic role right back to at least the Iron Age, when a large settlement was formed, with ancient accounts referring to the warring and feasting of those who called it home.

As you progress into the castle complex, the deep royal history starts to unfold with the 15th Century legacy of James III all around, not least in the Great Hall. His building programme results in much of what you can see today of the residence, which he made his home. But deeper timelines are also explored with the 12th Century St Margaret Chapel, build for Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III, who was later canonised.

Major Flashpoints of Scottish history are picked up at every turn at the castle as it guarded both city and nation, from the deeply turbulent reign of Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to her son James VI at the castle, to the sieges of Covenanters, Oliver Cromwell’s Army and The Jacobites as they tried to change the narrative of state and religious power over time.

Under attack, Edinburgh Castle has resisted but after every major breach, the design was altered and the defences emboldened to protect this symbol of Scotland.

Here, you will also find the Honours of Scotland, the Crown Jewels of the country, and all that they represent in this place which has been called to defend city and nation on so many occasions.

Edinburgh Castle, with its vast history and purpose, is best explored over time. Don’t rush it – there is so much time and high drama to cover.



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