Dominating the inner city is the most popular national monument in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle is situated on a black basalt rock and affords a magnificent view of the city. A drawbridge leads over a dried-out moat from the broad Esplanade where the famous Military Tattoo is held every August. The main entrance to the castle is flanked by bronze statues of William Wallace (ca. 1270-1305), who led the Scottish resistance against Edward I and was later executed in London, and of Robert the Bruce, Scotland's national hero who defeated the English under Edward II at Bannockburn.
Edinburgh Castle Map
Official site: www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
Address: Castle Hill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, Scotland
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Sep 30: 9:30am-6pm
Oct 1 to Mar 31: 9:30am-5pm
Oct 1 to Mar 31: 9:30am-5pm
Always closed on: Bank Holiday - Scotland (Jan 2), New Year's Day (Jan 1), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in GBP: Adult £15.00, Concession or reduced rate £12.00, Child £8.50, Child 4 & under FREE
Useful tips: Last admission 45 min before closing.
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Typical Visit: 1 hour
Edinburgh Castle Highlights
The portcullis gate is situated beneath the state prison, better known as Argyll's Tower as the Marquis of Argyll was imprisoned there. The highest point on Castle Rock (443ft/135m above sea level) is called the citadel or King's Bastion.
St Margaret's Chapel
St Margaret's Chapel was built around 1090 and is probably the oldest building in Edinburgh. Despite its size - only 17ft/5.2m long and 11ft/3.4m wide - it is an interesting example of early Norman architecture. It was used as the royal chapel until the reign of Mary Stuart, when it became an ammunition store. It was restored in 1853 at the request of Queen Victoria and underwent further renovation work in 1934.
One O'Clock Salute
A time cannon is situated near the Half Moon Battery. It is fired at 1 p.m. every weekday. At the same time, a time ball drops at the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill. This tradition dates from a time when the sailing ships on the Firth of Forth checked their chronometers by training a telescope on the castle. The 18-pound cannons on the battery were all made in Falkirk at the end of the 18th century.
Crown Square Scottish National War Memorial
Few visitors will fail to be impressed by the Scottish National War Memorial which is situated on the north side of Crown Square. Robert Lorimer was responsible for designing the Hall of Honor in memory of Scottish soldiers who died in World War I. Every regiment has its own memorial and even the animals that worked alongside the soldiers are remembered. A silver shrine holds the roll of honor with the names of the 150,000 dead. Many well-known artists were invited to help with the final decorations of the memorial which was consecrated in 1927.
Among the rooms within the Royal Palace is the chamber where Mary Stuart gave birth to her son James VI, later to become James I of England. For centuries the palace was the repository for state documents and the crown jewels, but they were removed on two occasions. In 1291 Edward I sent all papers and jewels to London and then about 400 years later just before Oliver Cromwell captured the castle, the regalia were taken to Dunnottar Castle for safekeeping. When the Union Treaty was signed in 1707 the regalia were returned to Edinburgh, but were locked away in the vaults in order that the Scottish public should not be roused to anger by the sight of them. The oak chest in which they were stored was finally opened in 1818 at the request of Sir Walter Scott. The contents have been displayed in the Crown Chamber ever since. The coronation insignia includes a scepter (1494) which was a present from Pope Alexander VI to James VI, a sword (1501) presented to James IV by Pope Julius II and a crown (1540) made from Scottish-mined gold with 94 pearls and 40 jewels.
Built at the beginning of the 16th C, the Great Hall at the south side of Crown Square was the meeting place for the Scottish parliament until 1640. Later it was used as a barracks and a military hospital, before being restored at the end of the 19th C. It now houses a comprehensive collection of arms and armor.
During the Napoleonic wars, French prisoners were interned under the Great Hall. Although boring, the captives' lives seem to have been reasonably tolerable as they were allowed to while away their time making toys and jewelry boxes which they were able to sell. Others became so successful at making counterfeit money, that in 1812 the banks put a notice in the "Edinburgh Gazette" offering a reward of £100 to anyone who could provide information about the forgers.
Mons Meg Cannon
Despite a whole range of other cannons, it is "Mons Meg" which attracts most attention. Manufactured in Mons, Flanders, in 1449, it was presented to James II by the Duke of Burgundy. Some 110lb/50kg of gunpowder could propel a 550lb/250kg cannonball about 2mi/3km, while a 1,000lb/500kg iron cannonball would travel about 1,500yd/1,400m.
National War Museum of Scotland (formerly Scottish United Services Museum)
On the west side of Crown Square, a military museum founded in 1931 displays uniforms, weapons and other memorabilia from the Scottish regiments.
Address: 1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD, Scotland
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Sep 30: 9:45am-6pm
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Admission included with price for Edinburgh Castle.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Gift shop
Typical Visit: 1 hour
More Edinburgh Castle Pictures
Map - Edinburgh Castle
Map of Edinburgh Attractions