Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

After some issues with WordPress and an expensive site upgrade, I’m back! I ran out of media space and upgraded my site, which voided a now-obsolete 10 gb media upgrade I’ve been paying for every year. Despite spending more money, I ended up with even less space! After much internal debate (and arguments with the WordPress people who, ironically in my opinion, call themselves Happiness Engineers) I realized my blog brings me joy so I might as well pay the hundreds of dollars to continue it.

So now we’re in London for five weeks, but I still have Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Bath to write about. And just when I was almost caught up, too…

Edinburgh Castle was one of the first things we bought tickets for in Edinburgh. They strongly suggest buying them ahead of time, and they aren’t kidding. We heard them turn away people who didn’t have tickets because all the tickets were sold out. Pro tip: buy your tickets as far in advance as you can

Perched up on Castle Hill, overlooking Edinburgh, it’s one of the oldest fortified places in Europe. The history spans centuries as a royal residence, military garrison, and prison and fortress. Today, it’s mainly a tourist attraction, with part of still being active military.

Looking up from Edinburgh, you can’t quite comprehend just how large it is. You can see the main areas in about an hour, but to immerse yourself in Scottish history, you need at least 2-3 hours. But you could easily spend all day wandering around.

View of the castle from Johnny Walker

The steep walk uphill to get to the castle is worth it for the view alone. As you walk the perimeter you get rewarded with sweeping views of Edinburgh.

As you cross through the medieval walls protecting the castle, you really feel as if you are entering a royal residence fit for a queen.

You are free to roam the grounds yourself, following signs to all the main areas. You can also purchase an audio tour, or sign up for a guided tour. We decided on a self-guided tour, loosely following the itinerary online.

We slowly meandered through the outside roads and walkways. It feels like a small village, complete with shops and cafes. The architecture is the medieval architecture you expect when you think of Edinburgh. It might be the writer in me but even the pictures make me want to take a feather pen to paper!

Our first stop was the Honours of Scotland, where the oldest crown jewels in Britain are on display. It was the only area with a line, and no photography is allowed. The display includes a crown and a scepter.

The crown was made for James V, who first wore it at the coronation of Queen Mary of Guise in 1540. Mary Queen of Scots was the first person crowned using the crown and scepter together. The items were removed from the castle in the 1650’s and sealed away in a chest in 1707, where they stayed until discovered by Sir Walter Scott in 1818.

Image from Edinburgh Castle’s website

We also saw the Great Hall, St Margret’s Chapel, and the One o’clock Gun, which is still fired at 1 pm everyday.

After seeing enough of the castle, we had dinner nearby while waiting for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to start.

At £16 each, it was a good deal, especially if you spend hours walking around. It was one of the more interesting castles to see, but the steep hills got tiring after a while. Still, it’s a must see when visiting Edinburgh.

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