St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
The patron saint of Edinburgh gave his name to Edinburgh's High Kirk of St Giles. St Egidius or St Gilles du Gar was born in Athens in 640 and later lived as a hermit in Provence. His links with Scotland go back to the old ties between Scotland and France.Consecrated in 1243, the cathedral is Edinburgh's principal church. Although it is often described as a cathedral, it has only functioned as such since the 17th century.
St Giles Cathedral Map
Official site: www.stgilescathedral.org.uk
Address: High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1RE, Scotland
Opening hours: May 1 to Sep 30: 9am-7pm; Sun: 1pm-5pm; Sat: 9am-5pm
Oct 1 to Apr 30: 9am-5pm; Sun: 1pm-5pm
Oct 1 to Apr 30: 9am-5pm; Sun: 1pm-5pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Donations requested. Also open for Sunday services.
Facilities: Gift shop
Typical Visit: 1 hour
St Giles Cathedral Highlights
St Giles Cathedral Tour
The nave and choir are equal in length but are separated by a short transept.To the left of the main entrance lies the side aisle which was endowed by the Duke of Albany in 1409. It contains memorials to the dead of World War I. Of particular note here are the stained-glass windows designed by the Pre-Raphaelites Burne-Jones and William Morris. Just in front of the Albany Aisle stands a statue of John Knox by Pittendrigh MacGillivray. The adjoining St Eloi's Chapel contains the splendid marble tomb of the Marquis of Argyll who was executed in 1661 for high treason. The carved figures from Caen stone which adorn the pulpit represent the six Acts of Grace from the New Testament. The Chambers Aisle slightly further north is dedicated to the 19th century church restorer William Chambers. The most impressive features in the choir are the fan vaulting and the medieval capitals bearing the coats-of-arms of James II, Mary of Gueldres and the Duke of Rothesay, later to become James II. The fleur de lys adjacent symbolizes the 'Auld Alliance' between France and Scotland.
The "Chapel of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle" with its marvelous oak carving, heraldic emblems and the seals of the "Knights of the Thistle" was designed in 1911 by Sir Robert Lorimer and is a superb example of modern Gothic style. Founded in 1470 by James III the Order of the Thistle is Scotland's oldest order of knights. Apart from the monarch, it was allowed to have no more than 16 members. Choir stalls reserved for the royal household and the Duke of Edinburgh are situated to the left in front of the chapel. While the Queen is head of the Church of England, she is not the head of the Church of Scotland which elects its chief representative every year. The Preston Aisle is named after Sir William Preston who bequeathed to the church a precious reliquary, a diamond-studded ring around a bone from the arm of St Egidius. The southern Chapman Aisle was endowed by Walter Chapman who together with Andrew Myllar brought the art of printing to Scotland ca. 1507. Under a monumental tomb lies the body of the Marquis of Montrose (1612-1650), initially a Covenanter but then an opponent of the Marquis of Argyll who had him executed at the Mercat Cross. Another tomb provides a reminder of the regent Moray who in 1559 led the reformers against Queen Mary of Guise. He was married in St Giles in 1552 by John Knox who later read the peroration at his graveside after he was murdered. Memorial plaques to Robert Louis Stevenson and the African explorer David Livingstone can be seen in the Moray Aisle. The great west window (1985) is dedicated to the popular poet Robert Burns. It was prepared in Germany by W. Derix following plans drawn up by Leifur Breidfjord from Iceland. Represented here are nature, brotherhood and the power of love, a reference to Burns' poem "My luve's like a red, red rose".
Map - St Giles Cathedral
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