St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh

St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh (must see)

St Giles’ Cathedral, otherwise known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile is the one you definitely wouldn't want to miss. The first church on this site, put up in the 12th century, was destroyed by fire; only the central pillars remain. The second church, built in 1385, over a period of time had many chapels added, giving it a rather haphazard appearance. At one time, the church boasted over 50 side altars, called aisles.

In 1466, the cathedral became a collegiate church, to which 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 itself was separated into numerous preaching halls by partition walls during that 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 pulled down. The most beautiful of all the 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 are 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.

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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St. Giles' Cathedral on Map

Sight Name: St. Giles' Cathedral
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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Harry Potter Trail

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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 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
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
Edinburgh Introduction Walking Tour

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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
Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

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
Literary Landmarks Tour

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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: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles

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