Edinburgh Castle

Of course in our trip to Scotland, we simply must stop at the capital.

Edinburgh Castle

Hubby and I saw Edinburgh Castle last trip, but I’m sure Dad will want to see it and I’d like to take the kids.

The castle was constructed over the better part of a millennium, with St Margaret’s Chapel dating back to the 12th century, the Great Hall to 1510, when it was erected by James IV, the Half Moon Battery was erected by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century, and the Scottish National War Memorial was built as recently as after the First World War!

If you visit the castle, you can see the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland. There are replicas you can take photos of, and then the actual Honours are kept in a separate room under strict guard where no photography is allowed. They say no photography is permitted in the Sistine Chapel, and most people take photos anyway – but here, when they say no photography, they mean it. Almost as much as they do in the Tomb of the Popes. Security reasons, I expect.

At Edinburgh Castle you can also see the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O’ Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland. I can’t say as I recall any of them, but we didn’t have a guided tour of the castle, and I found it far more confusing than any of the other, smaller castles we visited.

I do remember the shop had a very expensive, limited edition whisky that hubby tried, and then left regretful he couldn’t buy one.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

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Located at the other end of the Royal Mile to Edinburgh castle, this is one place we didn’t make it to last time. This is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. You can visit:

  • The State Apartments – these contain a number of fine artworks and is used by the queen and the royal family for official ceremonies and entertaining, mostly during Holyrood Week;
  • The Throne Room – seems kind of self-explanatory, right? It’s used for the luncheon for the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle when a new knight is installed. I have no idea what that is, but I must now know – and of course, want to be one (I don’t think I am eligible though… sad);
  • The Morning Drawing Room – Used for private audiences, such as with the First Minister of Scotland, the Lord High Commissioner, and visiting dignitaries;
  • The Great Gallery – used for the Investiture ceremony when Scottish residents receive an award in one of the tw Honours Lists, it is the biggest room in the palace and contains Jacob de Wet’s portraits of real and legendary kings of Scotland
  • The Historic Apartments – home of Mary, Queen of Scots, including her bedchamber, and her Outer Chamber, the location of her Italian secretary’s murder by her husband.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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We saw the tattoo when we were in Edinburgh, and again when it visited Sydney, Australia in 2010. Hubby has no desire to see it again, complaining of ‘cramped’ quarters, and Mum thinks bagpipes are frankly hideous, but Dad and I intend to go.

Each year the Tattoo is attended by an audience of about 220,000 people, 30% of whom are from overseas! It is quite simply an astonishing performance of pipes and drums and other military bands from around the globe, with the Australian Rats of Tobruk Memorial Pipe and Drums performing the year we were there.

The tattoo is always performed at Edinburgh castle, with the Lone Piper closing the performance from the castle battlements.

Not for anyone without the musical taste to appreciate bagpipes.