The Main Attraction – Edinburgh Castle

You can’t go to Edinburgh without a visit to the castle, she sits there looming over the city and you just can’t ignore her even if you try.  We arrived in Edinburgh at night, the castle was lit up and looked amazing and daunting; what did the enemies of old make of it as they approached this insurmountable building?

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Against the night sky

 

Walking up to the castle gates makes you feel part of history as you cross their threshold and enter through the castle gates.  They are of course small to only let those through who were welcome.  What were our highlights?

The Military Prison was a real eye opener, French and Spanish prisoners being locked up in such hard conditions so far from home, during the 1700 and 1800’s.  Hammocks are hung everywhere, with tiny windows, gives real insight into what life was like.  Letters from home were allowed at certain times of the year, which must have made their stay just a little, more bearable.

The dog cemetery carves out a quiet little corner, dogs of former soldiers, who must have been great companions during a harsh Scottish winter and a gentle reminder of the lighter side of castle life.

The courtyard offers safety from the wind, with the Great Hall on one side in which Mary Queen of Scots stepped, with sheer drop down the cliff face on one side.  Did anyone every get flung out of the windows I wonder?

The Scottish National War Memorial just stops your breath as you wander around and read all the dedications and memorials; the story of Scotland at war until the present day.   Within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum tells the story of battles lost and won, through military artefacts and personal treasures.  The bronze and metal work alone is worth a visit, the details are incredible.

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Details everywhere

 

Some moving and sobering quotes inside make you stop and really think about what as gone before us.

The Scottish Crown Jewels, known as the Honours of Scotland are a must-see – although a tourist decided to take his shoes and socks off whilst having a rest for us all to see, which was a little distracting!

It’s hard to get your head around the layout of the castle, but I am sure that was part of the design to foil attackers.  But this is also the beauty of the place, add in the views and it’s just WOW.  We even saw Arthur’s Seat which had climbed the day before.

 

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Growing out of the rock

We are blessed in the UK to have a plethora of castles to visit, but this one is unique.  The location alone is just stunning, slap-bang in the middle of the city, which means you can see her peeping out wherever you are in the city. You feel the power and influence this place had been part of over the years.

 

There is the lovely Redcoat Cafe for a warm up of great cakes and tea, with the most amazing views over Edinburgh, in a stylish setting.

With so many details to look at (as shown in the picture above) the whole design and planning of the castle makes your head spin, the way the bricks meld into the rocks as if they grew straight out from the earth rocky crust.

The one o’clock gun fires every day, except Sunday, and this was when the castle seemed most busy.  It’s worth the wait, it’s loud, very loud!  I can imagine the office workers of Edinburgh listen out for it as a marker of when to head off for lunch.

I first visited the castle in the mid 90’s and I loved visiting again.  You must visit when in Edinburgh as she won’t let you forget about her whilst you are in the city.  Visit here to view the website. Audio and tour guides available.

 

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