The Real Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh, Scotland

Located under the City Chambers building on the Royal Mile is a 400 year old little hidden city. Many of the little streets, or closes, are gone but Mary King’s Close, a street from the 17th century, is still mainly intact. Today it is one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions.

This close is special not only because it’s well maintained, but because it was named for a woman, very rare in the 1600’s. And maybe because of all the paranormal activity that’s been recorded there over the last 400 years.

The guided tour begins at ground level, above the close. While you wait they have information about the close you can browse. It was built underground, but the streets were open to air. You would walk out of the two room flat to a small street and look up, seeing floor after floor of the building above you. The poorest lived in the closes, the middle class in the middle, and the rich at the top.

When it was time for our tour we followed the period-dressed guide down the inside stairs, to the floors below the building. Many of the family homes were just two rooms, a kitchen and a room where everything else was done, including sleep and using the bucket. There was no running water, no bathrooms, when these were occupied. They would go to the bathroom into a bucket and throw it down the close, which was situated on an small decline. I would not want to live at the bottom of the close.

Unfortunately, photography isn’t allowed so I don’t have any photos. I did take a photo of this nearby close, as an example of what it was like. It’s pretty wild how you can be underground but it’s open to the air and feels above ground.

At £21 each, it was bit pricey but still worth it. We went at night and it added a nice little spookiness that made it that much more interesting.

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