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 Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 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

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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.
Edinburgh Pub Crawl

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Edinburgh is rich in pubs, both old and new, spoiling their patrons with the best in town drinks and food. Although most traditional pubs in the city are laid back, with a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, some have dance floors and double as nightclubs. This self-guided adventure takes you to several such spots, each with its own story to tell.

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New Town Walking Tour

New Town Walking Tour

Rightly regarded as the historic masterpiece of city planning, the New Town of Edinburgh has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The area forms a significant part of the Scottish capital and is known for its elegant Georgian architecture, abundant shopping opportunities, and many other delights firmly associated with this city.

One of the prominent landmarks in the New Town is...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 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 strong as ever. Although by now Harry Potter has become a household name across the globe, the fact that J.K. Rowling penned some of the world's favorite wizarding stories in Scotland's capital, where she still lives now, makes...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Being in Edinburgh, it is only natural to be curious about the avenues, boulevards, and streets leading to (or stemming from) the city's picturesque squares. There, you can find a copious amount of historic and religious sites, fashion stores, classy restaurants, and marketplaces, not to mention some hidden gems, exploring which is well worth the time spent.

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

Royal Mile Walking Tour

The Royal Mile, a steep thoroughfare in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, is one of the city's busiest tourist destinations. It runs down a slope, from the famed Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace and the ruined Holyrood Abbey, for almost exactly a mile and thus got its name, coined in 1920. The succession of streets forming the Royal Mile is lined with numerous shops, pubs,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Edinburgh Introduction Walking Tour

Edinburgh Introduction Walking Tour

Comfortably yet tightly packed on the hilly terrain, Edinburgh – the Scottish capital since at least the 15th century, and the seat of the Scottish Parliament since 1999 – is a picturesque city renowned for its unique architecture of the medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town, currently both listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The earliest known human habitation in the area dates...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles

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