Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh

Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh

While exploring the Royal Mile, you might see some of the locals partake in a rather bizarre, if not disgusting, ritual when passing a spot near the west door of St Giles Cathedral. As you draw closer, be careful to keep out of range, as you will see them spit on the Heart of Midlothian.

This heart-shaped mosaic, set in the cobbled-stone pavement, marks the entrance to the building that was demolished in 1817, but still stays in the memories of the people who grew up in the area. They spit here for good luck.

The building was the Old Tolbooth, a medieval customs house, which was also used for meetings by the Estates of Scotland for a short period. In 1640 it housed the Court of Session, the principal jail of the burgh, where prisoners were often tortured prior to being taken out for public execution in front of the entrance.

According to legend, Edinburgh’s petty thieves and not-so-petty criminals spat on the door, as they passed, to bring them luck against the day when they found themselves being taken through it.

Two centuries on, with the building gone, the heart in the cobble stones still reminds of the misery and torture carried out behind its walls.

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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Heart of Midlothian on Map

Sight Name: Heart of Midlothian
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

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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 known for its sheer number of pubs, both old and new, suitable for various events, and spoiling their patrons with the best drinks and food in town. Many of them also have live music shows fit to delight locals and tourists alike, 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...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Literary Landmarks Tour

Literary Landmarks Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 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
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
Harry Potter Trail

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

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