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

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.
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

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
Literary Landmarks Tour

Literary Landmarks Tour

For centuries, Edinburgh has prided itself on being a home to many great writers – Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, J.K. Rowling, just to name a few. Fortunately, the tradition doesn't seem to die out any time soon, and keeps producing more and more authors and literary heroes in whose footsteps people still wish to tread. To explore some of the memorable places of Edinburgh that have...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 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

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
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
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

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