Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh (must see)

Edinburgh Castle, presiding over Edinburgh since the 12th century, is the second most visited attraction in the United Kingdom, after the Tower of London. The history of Scotland is deeply etched into its ancient stones.

The castle stands on top of the Castle Rock, the basalt ventilation pipe of an extinct volcano eroded by glaciers. People have inhabited this area since the 9th century BC. The first castle on the site was constructed by King David I of Scotland, and had remained a royal residence until 1603.

As a fortress, it was virtually impregnable, except for one major drawback: the basalt rock on which it stood didn't hold water, so a 28-meter well quickly dried out during droughts or long sieges, leaving the denizens either to surrender or die of thirst.

The first castle was largely destroyed during the Lang Siege in 1573; the only remainder from that 12th century structure still standing is St Margaret’s Chapel. In the 17th century it became a military base, with the garrison quartered there until the 1920s.

Presently, the castle houses the Scottish National War Memorial, the National War Museum of Scotland and several smaller regimental museums. It is also home to the One O’Clock Gun, which is fired six days a week at precisely 1 PM, and the city’s clocks are set by it.

In the Crown Room, you will see the Royal Scottish Crown, Scepter and Sword of State, with actors in period costume re-enacting important events of the castle’s history. In August, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place on the castle’s esplanade. In the north-east corner of the esplanade is a small iron fountain, called the Witches’ Well. It marks the spot where, in the past, many women were burned at the stake for witchcraft.

Why You Should Visit:
The views from the castle are some of the best in Scotland, and the walk up visiting all the little places herein makes it a really good experience.

Tip:
The entry is cheaper if you book online, and more importantly, it allows to avoid the often long line.
Take a free guided tour – available every hour. Otherwise, consider audio guide at £3, quite useful.
Being at the top of the mountain, it may get windy, so definitely bring layers if visiting in cold weather.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5pm

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Edinburgh. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Edinburgh Castle on Map

Sight Name: Edinburgh Castle
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (See walking tours in Edinburgh)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Creating your own self-guided walk in Edinburgh is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
New Town Walking Tour

New Town Walking Tour

Largely regarded as the masterpiece of historic city planing, the New Town of Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The elegant area is home to the National Gallery of Scotland, a wealth of Georgian architecture lining broad avenues and open squares, abundant shopping opportunities on and around George Street, and many other delights firmly associated with Scotland's capital...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Old Town Museums

Old Town Museums

Popular for its rich cultural heritage, Edinburgh attracts a large number of tourists towards its numerous history and science museums that tell the compelling story of Scotland. Edinburgh is also a city where many locals spend their free time visiting galleries and attending art events. You can find amazing collections of original artwork in the many exhibitions around town. Take this tour and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Literary Landmarks Tour

Literary Landmarks Tour

For centuries, Edinburgh has prided itself on being a home to many great writers – Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, J.K. Rowling, just to name a few. Fortunately, the tradition doesn't seem to die out any time soon, and keeps producing more and more authors and literary heroes in whose footsteps people still wish to tread. To explore some of the memorable places of Edinburgh that have...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Historical Religious Buildings Walking Tour

Historical Religious Buildings Walking Tour

Amid the variety of other attractions, the historic city of Edinburgh abounds in numerous religious sites. The oldest of them, magnificent Christian churches, represent great interest from both historical and architectural standpoints. To visit some of the most notable and beautiful places of worship of Edinburgh, follow this self-guided walk!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

While in Edinburgh, discover the popular avenues, boulevards and streets that lead to its most famous squares. While exploring these streets, you can find a copious amount of historic and religious edifices, fashion boutiques, classy restaurants, famous market areas, and hidden gems. Check out a few popular Edinburgh squares and streets in this self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

Popularly known as the Old Town, the oldest part of the Scottish capital has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era buildings. Together with the 18th/19th-century New Town, it forms part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The abundance of museums, art galleries, theaters, ancient churches, countless historic landmarks, shopping and recreational...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles

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