St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh

St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh (must see)

You will find St Giles’ Cathedral, or the High Kirk of Edinburgh as it is also known, on the Royal Mile and you shouldn’t miss a visit to this beautiful church.

The first church to be built on the site was put up in the 12th century but was destroyed by fire and only the central pillars remain. The second church was built in 1385 and over a period of time, many chapels were added, giving the church a rather haphazard appearance. At one time the church boasted over 50 side altars, called aisles.

In 1466 the cathedral became a collegiate church and the lantern tower in the form of a crown was added in 1490. During the Reformation in 1560, most of the church’s treasures were removed, stolen or sold, including the most precious relic – St Giles’ withered arm and hand which had a diamond ring on one skeletal finger. The church was separated into numerous preaching halls by partition walls during this period.

Although called a cathedral, it was only one for two short periods of time during the Bishop Wars in the 17th century, so its statute of High Kirk is more important. It was restored in the 19th century, the partitions were removed and several chapels were pulled down. The most beautiful of all remaining ones is the Thistle Chapel, built in 1911 in a 15th-century High Gothic style. The wood and stone carvings are marvelous; it is filled with heraldry banners and has a breath-taking delicately carved vault.

Among the memorials here, you will see a bronze relief plaque dedicated to Robert Louis Stevenson in the Moray Aisle, a marble sculpture of James Graham, the 1st Marquis of Montrose, in the Chapman Aisle and another dedicated to Archibald Campbell, the 1st Marquis of Argyll, in the St Eloi Aisle. These two men, deadly enemies at the end of their lives, were the main signatories of the National Covenant in 1638.

Why You Should Visit:
Quiet, architecturally very special, and with such a wealth of spectacular stained glass that one cannot be anything else but awed.

Tip:
Entry is free or by donation, but if you want to take pics, you'll need to fork over £2 for a "permit".
Best to get onto a tour as there's much you could miss just wandering on your own. A rooftop tour (£6) is also worth it.
Don't miss the café downstairs. The food is great and it is really cute.

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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St. Giles' Cathedral on Map

Sight Name: St. Giles' Cathedral
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) containing this sight: Royal Mile Walking Tour   City Orientation Walk  

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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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 other sites. Check out the most popular Edinburgh squares and streets in the following self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Kids Entertainment Tour

Kids Entertainment Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

The Royal Mile is not in fact a street, but the name given to a succession of streets forming a thoroughfare at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. The thoroughfare is about a mile long and runs between the famed Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. The Mile is home to the Courts, St. Giles Cathedral, the City Chambers, John Knox's house, and also numerous shops and restaurants. Take...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 km
New Town Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km

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