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Royal Residence with an interesting history
Palace of Holyroodhouse (Edinburgh)
Member Name: ilovemycat
Palace of Holyroodhouse (Edinburgh)
Date: 31/03/11, updated on 27/09/11 (45 review reads)
Advantages: A good audio guide
Disadvantages: Pretty much like any other palace really
I visited Edinburgh for the first time last week. It's an interesting and beautiful city, famous for it's Royal Mile, which begins with Edinburgh Castle towering high up on a bluff above town and ending down in the valley with the Queen's official residence in Scotland, Holyrood Palace.
I've been to a number of palaces and castles over the years, in several different countries. I love history but to be honest they're usually much of a muchness, and Holyrood was no exception. In short - it looks beautiful on the outside, with wonderful architecture, high walls, turrets, and ornate fountains. All of this is set among wonderfully manicured gardens (although these weren't actually open when I visited, due to it being winter time).
The inside, however, can be looked at in two different ways. One is as a succession of large, beautifully decorated rooms with near priceless works of art adorning every wall. The other is as a succession of large, empty rooms filled with musty furniture with faded seat covers, and decorated with crusty, faded tapestries and cracked, barely visible paintings.
Holyrood is a working palace, and if we could see some of the Queen's living chambers it would have been worth it. Of course we didn't, the audio guide instead leading us through a succession of increasingly large banquet, audience and ceremonial chambers, all complete with their ancient fittings as described above. A couple of videos showed us how it might look when the Queen was in session, but on a regular visiting day all there is to look at is the other customers.
It was the audio guide that made it for me. Without it I would have quickly lost interest, having been round such similar places before. However, it filled me in with enough detail and historical background to genuinely gain my interest. The only downside was that there were no headphones - you had to hold it against your ear, quickly inducing forearm-ache. Luckily I was able to offset this utter stupidity of design with the headphones from my I-pod. It was available in several different languages.
Probably the most interesting parts were the chambers of Mary Queen of Scots. Inside the dark, gloomy bedchamber with her original bed still on view behind protective glass, we could hear all about the killing of her Italian servant by her then husband, which started off a chain of events that sent her life spiralling downhill towards eventual imprisonment and death.
At 14.50 tickets were a bit pricy. However, this includes 3 pounds for entry into the Queen's Gallery adjacent to the gift shop, which is basically a collection of official photos of the Royal Family. To be honest, it was a bit of a rip off and is easily missable unless you really want to see lots of pictures of the Queen as a young woman. Also included in the price is 3 pounds for the audio guide - but I would recommend getting it.
Opening information (borrowed from The Royal Collection website) -
The Palace is open daily
1 November - 31 March
09:30-16:30 (last admission 15:30)
1 April to 31 October
09:30-18:00 (last admission 17:00)
17 March 2011
09:30-13:30 (last admission 12:30)
The Palace is closed
22 April 2011
17 May - 3 June 2011
22 June - 8 July 2011
27-31 July 2011
25-26 December 2011
During Royal Visits
For anyone visiting Edinburgh it's pretty much a must see, but I would also recommend buying your souvenirs in the gift shop here. They were expensive, but the quality was far higher than the usual tourist tat you find at such places. The china and cutlery in particular were very beautiful.
Thank you for reading and rating. I'll be posting this review on my headofwords Ciao page in the next couple of days, complete with some pictures I took as I don't think you can upload them here. Check it out if you're interested.
Summary: I must see for Edinburgh, but don't expect any real inside into the lives of the Royal Family
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