“ Edinburgh Castle is an ancient fortress which, from its position atop Castle Rock, dominates the sky-line of the city of Edinburgh, and is Scotland's most famous (and most visited) landmark. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC. As it stands today though, few of the castle's structures pre-date the 16th century. As with all castles Edinburgh's has had a long military association. More unusually, at least in Britain the Castle continued to be an active military garrison until relatively recently. Direct administration of the castle by the Ministry of Defence only came to an end in 1923 when the army moved to their new Edinburgh barracks at Redford. Nevertheless, the Castle continues to have a strong connection with the British Army and is in fact still guarded by serving soldiers every day between 6 pm and 9 am. „
~A Bit of History~
Edinburgh Castle sits on an extinct volcano rock which was formed around 340 million BC. The actual castle was built around the year 1130. Edinburgh Castle has witnessed many seiges including being taken over by Edward 1 of England and recaptured by Robert the Bruce over a period of several years.
Over the years, the castle has been used for Royal engagements. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to a child here. More fights followed and prisoners were held in the castle. The Millitary Tattoo was first held in the grounds of the castle in 1950 and still is to this day. Today, Edinburgh Castle attracts more than 1.25m visitors each year which makes it the most popular attraction in Edinburgh. Concerts and other events are also held at the castle. See www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk for more details.
~Location and Opening Times~
Edinburgh Castle cannot really be missed as it dominates the city. To reach the castle by foot, there are paths up the side of the rock or you can follow the signs up past the shops in the side streets. Waverley train station is quite a walk away and this involves a lot of uphill walking! Buses run from Waverley train station. At the moment, there is no onsite parking but cars can pay to park in the nearby NCP car park. Coaches can drop off at Johnston Terrace and visitors will need to walk up to the castle from there.
Edinburgh Castle is open 7 days a week and only closes for Christmas Day and Boxing Day each year. During the Summer, the castle is opened 9.30am - 6.00pm. Winter opening hours are 9.30am - 5.00pm. Last entry is 1 hour prior to closing time.
You can purchase tickets online and print them their or at a ticket machine at the entrance.
*Adult - £16.00
*Age 5 to 15 - £9.20
*Concessions - £13.00
*Under 5s - free
The castle offers guided tours and educational visits (see website for more information).
~In The Castle~
As well as the historical background of Edinburgh Castle itself, there are several exhibitions and museums that are included in the ticket price. A map can be obtained allowing you to find your way about and the various areas are well sign posted. The majority of areas are fully accessible. I will discuss them further in this review but attractions include :
*National War Museum of Scotland - 400years of Scottish military history.
*Royal Scots Regimental Museum - medal collections and army life.
*National War Memorial - opened in 1927, this memorial is based in the building formally St Marys church. A tribute to those who died in the First World War.
We can then add other exhibitions to the list including St Margaret's Chapel, the 'Prisons' and The Great Hall amongst those notable and open for public viewing. The One O'Clock gun blasts each day (except a Sunday) which is a long standing castle tradition. Toilets are dotted around the park as are picnic benches and bins. There are a few gift shops (one is at the entrance of the park) which sell lots of Edinburgh and Scottish memorabilia and another in the castle grounds selling Whisky and the likes and a further within the castle grounds. Audio tours are available for £3.50.
If you do not wish to take a picnic, Edinburgh Castle does offer cafe facilities. 'The Tea Rooms' at Crown Square offer a wide range of more expensive treats including Afternoon Tea (£16.00), soup, sandwiches and also alcohol. Children are catered for. 'Redcoat Cafe' a short distance from the main entrance offers hot food from 11.30am. They offer sandwiches, cakes, childrens boxes and light snacks.
Living an hours drive from Edinburgh, I tend to visit a few times a year. Yesterday, I visited with my sons nursery group which included 19 children (under 5) and 24 adults. Our last visit previous to this was around a year and a half ago. We had to park quite a bit away from the castle and the walk up is daunting thanks to the uneven, slippy cobbles. It is worth noting that there are lots of little quaint shops and restaurants on the way up to the castle. Preparations are currently under way for the Military Tattoo and several rows of seats have been erected at the front of the castle for this purpose.
As we arrived as part of a group, our group leader had arranged the tickets. Arriving at the castle just after 10.30am, we found it to be incredibly busy (the ticket office was mobbed beyond belief) but we had our tickets in hand quite quickly and made use of the clean but small toilets available in this area. The castle itself is simply stunning and steeped in history due to the rugged, ruined exterior - very au natural as far as historical casltes go! The castle looks amazing from the shops and Princes Gardens below but you really do need to be fit for the long walk up!
Whilst the castle welcomes disabled visitors and those with prams, it isn't full accessible to those with mobility issues. I had issues on the cobbles and they do become really slippy. I noticed one wheelchair user who had a lot of trouble negotiating the cobbles and there are a lot of steep hills and stairs to be climbed before the main area of the castle is reached. It was bad enough with 19 pre-schoolers in the rain!
We actually went to the first gift shop on arrival due to having a tight agenda to keep to. It was expensive but not moreso than museums and the like. The shop offers nick nacks like little teddies, shortbread (obviously - it is Scotland after all!), toys etc. We wanted to take a few bits home for Daddy to bought 2 large chocolate coins, 2 packs of Edinburgh rock, some tablet and a fancy cup (for Boo) and it came to just short of £11.00. A few others bought plastic swords and shields so the toys were inkeeping with the castle history etc.
We took a packed lunch but did visit the Redcoat Cafe which was very clean and tidy. I bought a soup which was tasty and cost a few pounds. When we next return, I will be checking out the Tea Room as it looked rather fancy and posh (not the place for 19 pre-schoolers in my opinion) and would like to try the Afternoon Tea as it looked exquisite (I was peeping through the window!). The toilets further on in the park were very busy. We visited the toilets down some steep stairs and near to a sort of underground cove. They were clean but quite stinky but situated in some interesting underground cove.
~Views From Above~
It goes without saying that you should be keeping an eye on wandering children anyway and this was really important given how low some of the walls are around the castle! The views are simply stunning but much appreciated on a nicer day to the one we had today. The water is visible in the distance and there is the option to look down on Princes Street from one end of the castle and along the old town at the other end of the castle. It is possible to have amazing views from nearly anywhere in the castle. The majority of the castle is exposed to the elements so it is important to dress for the weather.
~History At Every Turn~
Despite now having aching legs, we got to see quite a lot of this wonderful castle which reminds me of how proud I am to be Scottish! This was my sons first time at the castle so I was determined that he was going to learn a bit about the history of the castle. We had a while to wander around just the two of us before meeting with the rest of the group. It was really busy and the castle is evidently popular with foreign tourists.
We took time to visit the less noted parts of the castle but the parts which would have been essential during wars. Cannonballs peeked through some open (and low) wall gaps and some were simply positioned for display behind gated wall gaps. We enjoyed visiting the museums which are confined within their own individual buildings and my favourite was the Regimental Museum near the Redcoat Cafe. It didn't take us long to wander around as my son was wanting his lunch but we did like to look at the collection of medals in particular. The museums make excellent use of the space and exhibits available to them and are very educational.
Onwards and upwards and we eventually came to Crown Square. Crown Square is the perfect place to relax and take some pictures and has an enclosed feel - less exposed than the outer areas of the castle but plenty of room for tourists to flow around freely. Our first stop was the Great Hall which has witnessed Royal ceremonies. The wooden beams, low lighting and red velvet window benches created the perfect interior appearance for the hall. Myself and my son sat here for our sandwiches and drink and witnessed two lovely ladies in full Royal costume happy to pose for pictures.
We took time to remember the soldiers killed at war in the Memorial which was quite a sad experience. The church was respectfully arranged with stain glassed windows and stone features to mark the bravery of the soldiers - a very fitting tribute. A steep set of stairs led us to the 'Honours of Scotland' exhibit which was quite interesting but took an age to get around due to there being around 100 people in front of us wishing to take pictures of everything! The displays were of great interest to us as we discovered how the crown, sceptre and sword used to coronate Mary Queen of Scots was created. Whilst we were able to take pictures in this display, the final display was not allowed to be photographed. This was disappointing as it held the most stunning crown display which dates back to the 15th century - simply stunning and breathtaking for all in the room.
We met back up with our group to witness the One O'Clock gun. I had no idea how popular this actually is within the castle and we found it difficult to find a space to view the gun being fired. A few of the children were terrified of the potential noise (including my son)! Everyone waited with held breath and when the clock struck one pm, the gun was fired. Noisy and alerting don't quite cover it even when you know it is due to go off!
I think it is excellent that tours are free and depending on how busy it is, they are quite regular. Our tour had already being booked as an 'Educational Tour'. Our tour guide was a buzzing lady called Heather and she was more than happy to show us certain areas of the castle. We only had an hour or so to spare so our tour was shorter than regular tours. Like any other staff we met, Heather was very friendly and knew her history. She was excellent with the children and very fun.
Heather took us to the 'dungeons' which we hadn't spotted on our first trip around the castle. The dungeons actually form the 'Prisoners of War' exhibition and despite being dark and a little 'cold' feeling, the children seemed unfazed. This prison was home to many pirates, traitors and those accused of witch craft many moons ago. They were placed here until they met their death. Foreign prisoners were also held captive. Some areas were cordoned off as they were took dangerous for tourists to enter. The main area of the dungeons featured high, wooden beds with dirty looking sheets, clothes hanging from the ceiling and disgusting food displays which gave an idea of the living conditioners prisoners were forced to sleep in - a huge difference to the prison conditions today!
We were taken to a special adapted building for school and nursery groups and the children (and some adults) were given the chance to dress up as knights, kings, jesters and the likes. There were plenty of costumes for all the children and this was their favourite part of the tour! They fought to try on the various shin guards and head gear available and this was enjoyed by all.
Whilst I wouldn't visit Edinburgh Castle regularly, it is definitely a must visit attraction. £16.00 may seem expensive but there is a lot to see and do and the added bonus of a guided tour is enough to tempt many! To be honest, I didn't expect my son (and the other children) to appreciate the true, historical value of the castle so young but they all thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a bit of everything for any age and it is well worth visiting.
Edinburgh Castle is historical, educational and visually stunning in my opinion. The castle has been well maintained with the original appearance of remaining authentic and realistic. There is plenty to learn (even if you are a young child or pensioner) and you just have to look around to visualise the battles that took place to keep the castle Scottish.
Thanks for reading - I hope I have covered enough to convince you to visit!
I have posted this review with pictures on ciao :)
If you visit Edinburgh, then you really should visit Edinburgh Castle...
The Castle is perched on top of a hill which overlooks Edinburgh. It's quite a steep hill walking up to the castle, although we found some steps which I think may have been a bit easier!
Once in the castle you need to queue to get your tickets. We went on 22 August 2009 and it was a scorching hot day. Even with the Tattoo on we still only had to queue for around 10 minutes and the queue went down really quickly... tickets are £14.00 each and you get a map of the castle included in that too... you can also order tickets online so you can fast track if you don't want to queue...
In the summer its open from 9:30am until 6:00pm which I think is plenty of time to get round the castle..
There were a couple of highlights for me, the first one being the one o'clock gun. This is fired six times a week and has been since 1861. It concides with the Time Ball which is at Nelsons Monumnet and this is raised up and drops exactly at 1300 hours. These two signals provide a time signal for shipping in two of the ports.. We got there about 12:45 and got a really good spot... The guard comes out and essentially fires the gun but the build up is great as they play the bag pipes and its done with military precision!
The other highlight was the crown jewels... also in this room were all the coats of arms which I was a little overwhelmed at! The only downside is that its quite a small room and quite a popular one so you can't really stand there and admire the jewels for too long without being moved along..
There is quite alot to do in the castle grounds as you can also look around the prison and there is also some military exhibitions. I'm not that great with heights myself but I must admit the views from the castle were incredible and they made some great photos!
As a side note, I would also like to mention the toilets as they are nice and clean and very modern....!
If you want to find out more about the castle check out its website www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
Edinburgh castle is a very beautiful historic castle that lies on top of the volcanic hill of edinburgh, exquisite to view and a chance to view the crown jewels as well as the stone of destiny which is the famous coronation stone travelled to london when a coronation takes place.
The castle sits on top of an extremely large and steep hill, so be warned if you are going to walk there because unless youre super fit, this walk takes it out of you. Its a long trek so I would recommend taking a taxi from the bottom, save your legs for the walk around the castle. Parents certainly dont want to be pushing a pram up the hill, its simply to steep.
Tickets are reasonable at a cost of £11 per adult but this of course can add up to be an expensive trip if there is a family of you however one that is well worth it, especially if you love historical buildings and of course it is the pinnacle of edinburgh itself, so really a must.
Once inside one top tip is to join the free walked tour with a guide who walks you round the outside of the castle and each section with a free historical speech. This is great, lasts about 30-40 minutes and is well worth it to get an overview of the place, and where is a must within it to visit and see.
Make sure whether you are in the castle or not that you listen out for the 1pm gun, as this is fired everyday at this time and is something quite magical to hear.
There are gems to visit within the castle walls one of which is the beautiful st margarets chapel which is used still for small and intimate weddings. The great hall is superb as well as the house that stores the jewels and stone.
Our particular favourite aspect was the dungeons and the prison. Very dark and gloomy and some areas were very oppresive and dreary but the real essence of edinburgh and its murky past could be strongly felt here. There are exhibits present through the prison and these are particularly interesting.
The views of course from the castle are exquisite and indeed it is worth to go up just to view them.
A must if you visit edinburgh overall, not to cheap, but a great afternoon out and incredibly historical and informative. There is a restaurant which is pleasant but a little pricey so either eat before hand or take some lunch with you.
Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland's most famous landmarks and a highly popular tourist attraction all the year round. The castle has evolved over the years - some parts date back as far as the 13th century, others are more recent, although there is evidence of human settlement on the site as early as 850BC. The castle has also served a number of different purposes over the years - from defensive structure to home and soldiers' garrison. These days, though, it's a great day out.
Because the purpose of the castle has changed over the years, this means that all tastes are catered for. If you enjoy looking round old castle buildings, there are plenty of those to see. If you like military history, there are a number of excellent and informative displays to keep you entertained; if you prefer reading about the history of a place or the people associated with it, then you can do that too.
The approach to it is at the top of a steep climb, so if you're unfit or a little infirm, you might prefer to get a taxi up there. The road leading to the castle opens out onto a broad forecourt, from there you have more or less got a panoramic view of Edinburgh. Go on the right day and the views across the city are stunning. The only downside is that (according to a guide book we had), the grandstands for the Edinburgh Tattoo are constructed very early, which can obscure the views, so if you want to see out across the city, you need to go earlier in the year.
Admission to Edinburgh Castle is very reasonable I thought. Adult admission currently costs £11 - with the standard reductions for concessions or children. You can also buy an audio tour which will take you round the castle for an extra £1. I can't comment on this aspect, as I didn't do this. I'm sure it adds some extra information, but to be honest, the signs and information placed around the castle are highly informative, so you're not going to miss out on too much if you decide not to do the audio tour.
Although the entrance fee initially sounds quite high, there's so much to see and do that you definitely get your money's worth. I spent almost three hours looking around - and even then, I skipped a couple of the exhibitions or rooms because they didn't interest me. If you do the whole lot, you could easily be there for 4 hours or more. It's definitely worth taking your time to look around to soak up the atmosphere and see every bit, as it's a wonderful building.
Once you're in the castle itself, it's very well laid out. You can basically take pretty much any route you like around the castle. There are signposts placed at various intervals which help you both to find the sections you are interested in, as well as helping you make sure you don't miss any of the parts out. There are also two lots of toilets within the castle compound and a number of different gift and bookshops and a restaurant, so you've got everything you need within the castle walls.
As well as signposts, Edinburgh Castle is full of display boards containing useful information and interesting facts. These are very well written, highly informative, but short. One of the problems I often find when visiting historic sites is that the displays often try to cram in too much information, leaving you feeling like you are back in school in a history lesson. The information boards in Edinburgh Castle, on the other hand, just give you the basic information. Of course, part of this is to encourage you to buy a guide book or an audio tour to find out more, but you can get round the castle just fine with these boards alone and find out plenty about the history of the place.
As I've already said, one of the nice things about Edinburgh Castle is that there's more to it than just a pretty, historical castle. There are plenty of exhibitions or mini museums on a range of subjects too. For example, for a long time, Edinburgh Castle was a garrison, so there is a museum of military history within the compound. The Scottish Honours (crown jewels), including the famous Stone of Scone are housed within the castle and the visitor is taken through an extremely well-thought out and highly informative exhibition going through the history of the Honours, before being taken into a small room where the artefacts themselves can be viewed. This makes Edinburgh Castle quite unique, as it will appeal to people who don't particularly like castles.
On the downside, you do need to be relatively fit to go around the castle. As most people will be aware, it sits at the top of a very high hill overlooking the city and the easiest way to reach it is by foot (although you can get a taxi to it). Once inside the castle, there is still plenty of walking to be done - again, much of it uphill, so the elderly or infirm may struggle to get to parts of it.
Equally, much of the castle is out of doors, so if the weather isn't great, you may want to consider coming back another time. Certainly when we went, it was very windy and bitterly cold, although thankfully it wasn't raining. If you went when it was raining, you might be tempted to skip bits of it out and that would be a shame, as you wouldn't get your money's worth from it.
Despite the fact that there is good signage within the castle, it can still be easy to miss things out accidentally, as some of the exhibitions or rooms are slightly hidden away. In particular, we almost missed out on the State Rooms, as they were hidden behind a tiny doorway, which looked as though it just led to a gift shop and nothing else. The fact the doorway was also partially hidden behind scaffolding didn't help, and it was only when we looked at the signposts that we realised we had missed this part out.
Another disadvantage is that whilst the exhibitions are very good and interesting, they do rely heavily on text, diagrams or simple display cases. There are none of the interactive style displays which many museums now use, so kids might start to get a bit bored and fidgety, once the initial novelty of being in the castle has worn off.
Overall, Edinburgh Castle is a brilliant place to visit and well worth a few hours of anyone's life. If you've never been there, do yourself a favour and get up to Scotland to see it!
Tel: 0131 225 9846
Opening times: 9:30am - 6:00pm1 Apr - 30 Sep, 9:30am - 5:00pm 1 Oct - 31 Mar
Admission price (full adult) £11 (2008 rate)
© Copyright SWSt 2008
Towering over the buildings below, Edinburgh Castle has to be the most famous of Scotland?s landmarks so I just couldn?t pass up the chance to visit it during my first trip to the area. Windsor Castle is my favourite castle by far, but this certainly came a close second. WHERE IS IT? There is no need to go into detail about the location of the castle because if you go into Edinburgh you simply cannot miss it as it is perched on top of the old volcanic rock Castle Rock, high above everything else in view. I loved it that the one?o?clock gun is still used so people can still set their watches by the castle- I love it when tradition like that lives on! We walked up to the castle from the main shopping street and then along Royal Mile. It was a nice walk along a winding cobbled road (although there was a footpath) but it was very steep. I would advise anyone with mobility difficulties or wheelchairs to take a taxi up otherwise it could be very tiring. TICKETS Tickets can be bought from the entrance to the castle, as can guide books which are A5 size and give a good background to the castle. The guide book only cost a couple of pounds, and admission to the castle was around £8. For current prices contact the castle on 0131 225 9846. OPENING HOURS The castle is open daily from 9.30am-6pm between April and September and between 9.30am-5pm from October to March. You only really need a couple of hours at the castle to see everything. FACILITIES I?m not sure what provision there is for disabled people, but there were quite a few sets of steps dotted around, which is to be expected with it being a castle. Toilets are at the entrance and near the end of the tour, and there are also two places to grab something to eat- although we did not try either of these so I can?t really comment on them. There are also three gift shops along the route. They sell nice souvenirs of the castle. I don?t usually bother wit
h the gift shops because I usually find they are overpriced and I end up buying things that seem like a good idea while I?m swept up in the mood of the attraction but then just gather dust when I get home. But this time my boyfriend bought me a small teddy bear complete with kilt and bagpipes as a memento of my first trip to Scotland and it takes pride of place on a shelf in my bedroom! It was around £7 and is very good quality so the prices seemed quite reasonable. HOW IS THE TOUR ORGANISED? It is a self-led tour around the castle and there are 26 plaques displayed on the wall at various points which give information about why that place is particularly significant. Members of staff can also be found at various points to answer questions that the plaques may not cover. The tour starts at the Gatehouse (where you go into the castle) and leads to the highest part (Upper Ward) and into the heart of the castle. There was an option of waiting at the Gatehouse to take part in a tour led by a member of staff but we found it quite sufficient finding our own way around. With the maps we had with our tickets and the information on the plaques and guidebook, we had everything we needed. WHAT DO YOU SEE? The first part of the tour is the Lower Ward which is the section that faces the town below. Apparently it is the most vulnerable part of the castle and has suffered more siege damage than the rest. You go through the gatehouse, built in 1886, which is lovely and in true keeping with what you would expect from a castle. The old guardhouse has been converted into a gift shop and then there is another entrance to the actual castle itself, known as the inner barrier. The Middle Ward was added to the castle in the 15th Century and the approach road was used to transport heavy guns in and out of the castle. Things are a bit different today!! A really picturesque flight of winding steps leads up to the highest part of the c
astle. At this point of the tour you also see the Argyle Battery which was used to defend the castle. I still can?t get over the size of some of the weapons used and how heavy it all was. A majestic looking building also stands here and is labelled the Governor?s House but there is no access to the public- shame. The Upper Ward gives the best views of Edinburgh because it is the highest part and well worth taking your camera. It was New Year when we visited and there was a fairground below which looked so tiny from up at the castle- it was really pretty. A quirky part of the Upper Ward is the Dog Cemetery- a well-kept grassed garden used since the 1840s as a burial place for officers? pet dogs. It is a nice touch and really demonstrates the human side of the uniformed officers that would have been based at the castle. At this point you also see St Margaret?s Chapel- the oldest structure in the castle. Crown Square was created in the 15th Century as the main courtyard and it actually stands on an artificial platform, although you wouldn?t know it. The Royal Palace is found here and is where the later Stewart kings and queens lived. You have access to the Crown Room where the Honours of Scotland (a beautiful crown, sword and sceptre) are housed. You should see the thickness of the metal door leading to the room! It got us talking about the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London and my boyfriend had never seen them so a few months later we ended up going and seeing them too! There is also a very ornate section of the castle here with a strong religious feel. It is a grand building with beautiful stained glass windows and is used as the Scottish National War Memorial. It is very interesting to look around. You also see prisoners? cells and it makes you feel glad of all your home comforts! THE ONE O?CLOCK GUN The signal gun is fired from the top of the castle at 1pm every day except Sundays, Christmas Day an
d Good Friday. We were actually back at the bottom of Castle Rock when it was fired and it was great to hear. You saw the smoke from it too which was good! It was started in the 1850s and has continued ever since, except for in periods during the two World Wars- amazing! I really loved this castle and it looked beautiful at night as it was all lit up high above its people. You can?t beat attractions like this which are filled with history. I would love to see the castle during the Edinburgh Tattoo when it comes to life with marches, pipes and drums- I bet it?s pure magic. Thanks for reading :o)
Edinburgh Castle, built on the site of an extinct volcano, sits high on a steep cliff, dominating both the Old Town and New Town of the city. You can see it from just about anywhere, fascinating but foreboding in the daytime with its Traitor's Gate etched into the hillside (thus providing a mighty and fatal fall for all those who were thrown out of it onto the rocks below), and utterly beautiful at night-time when it is floodlit. The castle is Scotland's most popular tourist attraction, not just for its beauty and state of preservation, but also for its long and often bloody history. The castle dates from the 12th Century, but the land itself has been inhabited from 800 BC. It was the seat of Scottish Kings, but has also been occupied from the English, including Oliver Cromwell. Among many other notable events, it was the place where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to King James VI of Scotland and James I of England. Because of its strategic position, it was frequently under attack and the site of bloody battles. You enter the castle at the top of the 'Royal Mile' in the heart of the old town. The drawbridge you pass over to get inside has statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce at either side. Inside the castle walls is a plethora of places to visit, from military barracks, prisons, the royal apartments to places of worship. Before entering any, however, you must stop in front of St. Margaret's Chapel (the oldest building there) and take in the views of the beautiful Georgian New Town and the Firth of Forth. Below the chapel is the Palace, where you can see the 'Honours of Scotland', the Scottish Crown Jewels. Also here is the Stone of Destiny, on which the Kings were crowned. You can then go on to the Great Hall and take in the display of arms and armour, and also see the Scottish National Monument. There are many vaults you can go into, too, whic
h were once used to house prisoners of war, and a military museum. In fact, the castle still serves as Headquarters of the Scottish Division, and Regimental Headquarters for The Royal Scots and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards today. All around there are information boards explaining where you are and what you are seeing, and loads of really interesting historical facts and drawings. Other things of note are the one o'clock gun (fired daily without fail) and the military tattoo (which takes place every August). There are also daily displays of birds of prey throughout peak season. You can browse the castle by yourself, or take one of the frequent guided tours. Doing the latter will ensure you get the full, often gruesome, history of the castle and it's inhabitants. A third option is to buy an audio guide, stick it on your head and walk around by yourself. I plumped for the guided tour and was glad I did. The tour guides really know their stuff and bring the place alive with their knowledge and tales. And when you've finished, there are several gift-shops to browse (most selling overpriced but often 'tasteful' tat, though the book shop is very good if you like history), and an excellent café which serves great coffee at a reasonable price. The toilets are nice as well, which always leaves a good impression on me. I spent a good couple of hours at the castle last Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite having no interest whatsoever in militaria. What impressed me was the sense of history which was almost tangible, the wonderful preservation and restoration that has been done on the buildings, and the fantastic tales told by the tour guides. And nowhere else in the city will you get views like the ones from the castle walls. The castle was very crowded and there are many steps to climb and steep bits to walk, but none of that spoilt my enjoyment one bit. Of course the place is tour
isty, but it's all done in the best possible taste. Yes, you've got the pipers, and yes you've got staff dressed up in traditional Scottish clothes, but it isn't done in a tacky way. There wasn't an 'och the noo' to be heard anywhere. Opening hours: April-September 0930-1800 October-March 0930-1700 Cost: Adults £7.50 Children 2.00 OAPs 5.50 (but 10% discount if you've been on a Guide Friday bus tour and kept your ticket) Disabled facilities Several languages catered for
Edinburgh city skyline is dominated by the castle which is Scotland's top tourist attraction and the most visited site in Britain, outside of London. It sits atop a volcanic plug with steep cliffs on three sides.
This site has been constantly fought over because of it's strategic position. It's closeness to England has meant that it was always under threat of attack. It was occupied by the English in 1174 for 12 years and again by Edward 1 in 1296 until it was liberated by the Earl of Moray in 1314. the castle has withstood many sieges since then and occupied in 1650 by Cromwell.
These days it is regularly 'invaded' by hordes of tourists.
You really can't miss it, it sits in the centre of the city at the top of the Royal Mile.
Entrance is through the esplanade, a large parade ground where the Military Tattoo is held annually, and across the drawbridge. The drawbridge is flanked by statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and the path climbs steeply to the battery where the one o'clock gun is fired. This has occured everyday for 150 years.
There are marvellous views from here across the New Town to the Firth of Forth and over to Fife.
The path climbs on to the New Barracks which date from the 1700's as do a lot of the buildings within the castle walls. The path then continues on to the summit of the rock and St. Margaret's chapel, the oldest surviving building in the castle. In front of the tiny chapel is the Half Moon Battery which affords the best views of the city from the castle.
South of the chapel is the Palace where in 1566 Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James V1 who was later to unite the Scottish and English crowns. This building also houses the Honours of Scotland - that is to say, the royal crown, sceptre and sword of state.
Also in the crown room
is the recently returned Stone of Destiny on which the Kings of Scotland were crowned. The stone was stolen by Edward 1 and only returned a few years ago although some would say that Edward stole a fake.
Nearby is the Great Hall with a display of arms and armour and the Scottish National Monument, dedicated to the many tens of thousands of Scottish soldiers killed in the First world war. As a percentage of her population, Scotland lost more soldiers than any other country in the Great War.
From there you can descend to the vaults, once used as a prison for French soldiers during the Napoleonic wars.
From here it is literally all downhill.
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Perched high on the top of an extinct volcanic outcrop Edinburgh Castle stands proudly, dominating the city skyline and offering fantastic views of Edinburgh and areas. Over the years the castle has seen a lot of history unfold and each Royal resident who occupied it modified or added to the original structure, so todays castle is an architectural mixture of Palace, Fortress, Barracks, Chapel and War Memorial..There are so many thing to see that a free CD - based audio tour is full of fascinating information but this is over four hours long and is available in six languages.For those who just like to wander about I suggest a minimum of two hours for your visit. You will be able to enjoy seeing the Laich Hall restored to its former splendour evident at the time James V1 was in residence in 1617. The Castle is also home to the Scottish Crown Jewels , the oldest Royal Regalia in Britain. Displayed with the Crown Jewels is the Stone of Destiny returned to Scotland as recently as 1996 after 700 years in England. It was the Coronation Stone of Scottish Kings such as MacBeth and John Baliol before its removal to England by Edward in 1296. The Castle houses the new National War Museum of Scotland and the Royal Scots and the Scots Dragoon Guards regimental museums. It is also home to the Scottish National war Memorial and not forgetting the world famous “One O’Clock Gun “. There is also another new exhibition about the Guns history this can be found at the stairway leading to the Western defences. The One O’ Clock Gun is not fired on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday but it booms out over Edinburgh every other day of the year. With the many sights on offer a camera is essential to capture the stunning views .A picture of Mons Meg the giant medieval siege gun seems to be high on everybody’s list. I f you are ready for a refreshment break the Edinburgh Castle Cafe at Mills
Mount offers the ideal place for a reviving cuppa. There are also the usual souvenir shops the Castle Crown Jewel Shop, the Bookshop and the Main Castle Gift Shop offer a large range of must have tourist memorabilia. Admission Costs Adult £7.50 Child under 16 £2 Concession £5.50 The car park at the Castle costs £3 for a maximum two hour stay. The Castle is open 7 days a week from 9.30am closing at either 5pm or 6pm depending on season and is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.There is reasonable wheel chair access and disabled toilets are available. To sum up no visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a climb up the Royal Mile and a visit to the Castle. It really is well worth it. So if you find yourself in the Capital with a few hours to spare I highly recommend this excursion..
Nowhere in the world have I ever heard of a castle surrounded in such an environment of City Centre shops and high population. Recently Edinburgh was voted the most beautiful City in Europe. Looking at monuments like Edinburgh Castle: you can see why. From the outside alone it is huge and spectacular. Built on an enormous volcanic rock it is certainly a gorgeous sight when shopping along the High Street (Princes Street) in the top brand shops. One side of the Street is taken up by household stores like Debenhams and HMV. The other side of the busy traffic way boasts wonderful gardens ansd the citys castle. What a way to shop. The Castle is easy to find it can be seen from most points in the city that can see above the buildings. It is located, directly, in the Centre of Edinburgh. Visiting the Castle itself is a great experience, although, admittedly, a little steep on the old wallet. There are three options at the gate: a guided tour, a tour with headphones or an audio tour, have a look round yourself. The Castle is steepeed in Historical significance not just for Scotland but the entire UK. This can be seen in the many areas and talks throughout the tour. Most of the Castle is kept in the same decor and state as it was many years ago. Including the one'o'clock gun which can be heard throughout the City Centre. Some of it is rethought: like the new barracks for the garrison there. The location of theCastle is ideal for the tourist, as many different museums and exhibitions are within minutes of walking distance. Also at festival time, in Edinburgh, a show, known as the tatoo, welcomes tourists to a military cavalcade shown on a purpose built arena, although this is a little pricey too. There is plenty of shops on the walk to and from the sight selling souvenirs from stuffed, scotty dogs to tartan kilts. Plenty to make a man look and feel like William Wallace himself.
This sight is a must visit, and the city itself is stunning!
When you first see Edinburgh Castle from the city streets it does not look like a traditional castle. However, as you walk up the steep roads, the approach to the castle entrance is very impressive. The ticket price does seem a bit expensive, as there is little indication as to what you will see for your money. But you should pay the money (£7 Adults, £2 Children) as the visit is worth every penny. When you enter the castle there is a choice of three ways to find your way around: 1) You can borrow a cassette recorder (with headphones) and an audio tape, which gives you a commentary about each part of the castle. This is a free service and it is estimated the tour will take about 4 hours if you follow the route on the tape. A lot of the visitors use this service, but after a couple of hours these people do look as if they are in a trance. 2) Have a guided tour. These start from near the entrance gate of the castle, at regular intervals. (The time of the next tour is displayed on the wall). The quality of these tours is obviously dependent upon the individual guide and there did seem to be a lot of standing around outside buildings listening to long dialogues about the buildings and their history from the guide. 3) Find your own way around. We took this option and found this very satisfactory. It allowed us to spend more time in the parts of the castle we found particularly interesting and also for the children to do their own exploring, especially in the castle prison area. Within the castle there are a large number of different buildings, each with a different area of interest, with each part set out really well. The displays show the history of the Scottish military and the castle itself in such a way that visitors of all ages are kept interested. There are a number of small shops around the castle selling gifts and souvenirs, but these are not intrusive and the prices in the shops are quite reasonable.
There is also a very comfortable coffee shop selling drinks, snacks and meals. Not to be missed is the One O’clock Gun. Every day at one o’clock a military cannon is fired from the castle walls, which traditionally was used to tell the people in the City below the exact time every day. It is now maintained as a tourist attraction and always draws a crowd around this part of the castle every day. There is a display room set up especially about the gun firing and it’s history, not only at Edinburgh, but of time guns around the world. The attractions within the castle are too numerous to mention here, but I must mention the Scottish Crown Jewels, which are on display here. These are very impressive, but could easily be missed as there is only a small sign directing visitors to the vault where the jewels are on display. The views from the top of the castle over the city of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and the surrounding area are spectacular. Remember to take your camera to capture these sights. If you are visiting Edinburgh and have 3 or 4 hours to spare, then do visit the castle. It is a visit you will remember.