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.

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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Greyfriars Church on Map

Sight Name: Greyfriars Church
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Literary Landmarks Tour

Literary Landmarks Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Edinburgh Introduction Walk

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

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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
Royal Mile Walking Tour

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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

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