Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh

Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh

With a clear division into the Old and New Town, it's not hard to locate ancient buildings in Edinburgh. One such building – Greyfriar’s Church – is part of the Old Town.

Construction on the church began in 1602 and it was consecrated in 1630, becoming one of the oldest buildings in the Old Town. It was put up on the site of an abandoned Franciscan monastery and took its name from the monks who wore grey cassocks and were called “Grey Friars”.

In 1718, a dividing wall split the nave between the Old Greyfriars and New Greyfriars, so as to separate the Covenanters from the Roman Catholics worshipping inside the same church. In 1845, parts of the roof and the interior were destroyed by fire.

During restorations in the mid 19th century, beautiful stained-glass windows were added. It was the first time that such windows appeared in a Presbyterian church and it caused a bit of a scandal. A little later, an organ was added, causing yet another scandal. In 1929, the church was further renovated and, this time, the dividing wall was removed.

The adjoining graveyard is said to be haunted by the ghost of George Mackenzie, called the “Bloody” Lord Advocate for being responsible for the persecution of the Covenanters. According to legend, wherever his hand touches a living person, it leaves cuts and bruises.

Today the church hosts fashion shows, exhibitions, lectures and drama productions. The onsite museum showcases artefacts found in the area and recounts a comprehensive history of the Covenanters.

***Literary Landmarks & Harry Potter Tour ***
Hidden behind the Elephant House Café lies the historic Greyfriars Kirkyard which is now a place of interest for avid Harry Potter fans. Found here the grave of Thomas Riddell is said to have inspired JK Rowling to create the Tom Riddle (aka Lord Voldemort) character. Also, visible from here George Heriots School is said to be the template for fictional Hogwarts.

In addition to the gravestones of Robert Potter, Tom Riddell and William McGonagall found in the cemetary, there are others with potential links, such as Elizabeth Moodie (Mad-Eye Moody?) and Margaret Louisa Scrymgeour Wedderburn (Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic in the final Harry Potter book?).

Starting August 2019, there is a Greyfriars Kirkyard map available to buy, locating all of the Harry Potter-themed gravestones. Proceeds from sales go to the upkeep of the grounds.

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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Greyfriars Church on Map

Sight Name: Greyfriars Church
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (See walking tours in Edinburgh)
Sight Type: Religious
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
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 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
Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

A succession of streets forming the steep thoroughfare at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, The Royal Mile is one of the city's busiest tourist destinations, lined with numerous shops, pubs and casual eateries, souvenir shops and small museums. It runs on a downwards slope for almost exactly a mile (hence the name, coined in 1920), from the famed Edinburgh Castle to the Scottish...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 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
Harry Potter Trail

Harry Potter Trail

Years after the release of the last Harry Potter book and movie, the cultural phenomenon of Harry Potter doesn't seem to fade away and the fandom continues as strong as ever. For a true Harry Potter fan, adding Edinburgh – the city in which the author J.K. Rowling lived while writing the books and still lives today! – to their travel bucket list is a must. On this self-guided Harry Potter...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles

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