Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Grassmarket, Edinburgh (must see)

One of the best places for shopping or relaxing over a pint or a meal in Edinburgh is undoubtedly the Grassmarket.

It is a historic market nestled in a small valley so that it is lower than the surrounding street levels. Between 1477 and 1911 it was the most important horse and cattle market in the city, and because it drew large crowds, it was also the place where public executions were held.

According to legend a woman was hanged here and lived to talk about it afterwards! Maggie Dickson was a fishwife accused of murdering her child and she was sentenced to be hanged for her crime. In those days “until you are dead” didn’t figure in the sentence proceedings.

Maggie was duly hanged and then cut down and her body taken away for burial, but on the road to the cemetery, she woke up. She couldn’t be re-tried and was considered to have paid her debt to society and so she went free. There is a pub in the market that bears her name.

The market was a poor area until the 1980s when it began to become popular with students – perhaps because of its numerous pubs and clubs. The area was renovated with many of the pubs setting up outside terraces and installing dining rooms. A lot of shops moved into the market and it is a great place to find good clothes and souvenirs at bargain prices.

“The Shadow of the Gibbet”, dark paving stones laid out in the form of a gibbet are a sombre reminder of the death penalty; you can see them next to the Covenanter’s Monument. The Bow Well on one side of the market dates back to 1681.

Why You Should Visit:
Quirky, safe and interesting; great for those who need a regular change of scenery, as there is a variety of shops and pubs for every wallet and taste of music.

Tip:
Check out Carnivàle Vintage for a wonderful selection of fun vintage clothes, Tasty Buns for a pastry and a coffee, Hula Juice Bar for a healthy meal, and Mary's Milk Bar for pure indulgence.
Up the road from Grassmarket goes Victoria Str. which is also well worth a visit, together with Royal Mile (further up) which has lots of cool independent shops and restaurants/cafés.

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Edinburgh, Scotland within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. 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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Grassmarket on Map

Sight Name: Grassmarket
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: Old Town Walking Tour   City Orientation Walk  

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.
Museums & Galleries, Old Town

Museums & Galleries, Old Town

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: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

With a lot of famous museums, art galleries, theaters, old churches, countless historic landmarks, shopping avenues and amazing architectural and recreational attractions all over the city, Edinburgh can seem quite daunting when it comes to sightseeing. The Old Town of Edinburgh, the oldest part of Scotland's capital, has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
New Town Walking Tour

New Town Walking Tour

The New Town is a central area of Edinburgh, considered to be a masterpiece of historic city planing, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy, but also to an upmarket range of independent eateries and restaurants, as well as some of the best pubs and bars you will find in Edinburgh. Take the following tour to discover the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
Religious Sites Walking Tour

Religious Sites Walking Tour

Edinburgh is an enchanting city and home to numerous places of worship. The city is open to all religions and features magnificent Presbyterian and Catholic churches, the main two religions in Scotland; as well as Jewish synagogues and Islamic mosques, and even Buddhist centers. Check out this tour and visit some of Edinburgh’s beautiful religious sites.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Old and New Town Best Pubs

Old and New Town Best Pubs

Edinburgh is known for its sheer number of pubs, old and new, that offer various events, and provide the best drinks and food to their visitors. Many of them have live music performances that attract both locals and tourists, and although most traditional pubs are laid back and offer a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, some do have dance floors and double as nightclubs. Take this self-guided tour to...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

The Royal Mile is not in fact a street, but the name given to a succession of streets forming a thoroughfare at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. The thoroughfare is about a mile long and runs between the famed Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. The Mile is home to the Courts, St. Giles Cathedral, the City Chambers, John Knox's house, and also numerous shops and restaurants. Take...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 km

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