Inverness Historical Buildings Walking Tour, Inverness

Inverness Historical Buildings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Inverness

Inverness, a city established in the 12th century, boasts an array of historical architecture reflecting its rich and often tumultuous past. Many of its centuries-old buildings are situated along the banks of the River Ness and blend effortlessly with the surrounding landscape.

Undoubtedly, prime among these is the Inverness Castle, perched majestically atop a hill overlooking the city. Originally built in the 11th century, this castle has undergone numerous renovations over the years and is now a prominent landmark.

Another iconic structure, the Tollbooth Steeple, is a striking testament to Inverness's civic pride. This elegant edifice once served as a courthouse and town hall, embodying the city's administrative heritage.

Adjacent to it stands the Inverness Town House, a grand building with a storied past. Built in the late 19th century, it remains an architectural gem, hosting various civic functions and events.

Further into the city center, the Victorian Market, a bustling hub of activity, offers a glimpse into Inverness's commercial history. Its ornate façade and bustling interior provide a nostalgic experience for visitors.

Religious landmarks also dot the cityscape, including the Inverness East Church and the Old High Church, both cherished symbols of faith and community.

Dunbar's Hospital and Abertarff House add another layer to Inverness's architectural tapestry, showcasing the city's commitment to preserving its heritage.

Saint Columba High Church, Free North Church, and Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church serve as spiritual anchors, each with its unique character and significance.

Finally, the imposing Inverness Cathedral, notable for its most northerly change-ringing bells, stands as a testament to the enduring presence of Christianity in the city.

Inverness's historical buildings – vivid reminders of the past – are also vibrant spaces for the present community to cherish and enjoy. Our self-guided tour will help you visit these prominent landmarks, delve into their stories, and thus become part, if only for a brief moment, of Inverness's living history.
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Inverness Historical Buildings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Inverness Historical Buildings Walking Tour
Guide Location: Scotland » Inverness (See other walking tours in Inverness)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Inverness Castle
  • Tollbooth Steeple
  • Inverness Town House
  • Victorian Market
  • Inverness East Church
  • Old High Church
  • Dunbar's Hospital
  • Abertarff House
  • St. Columba High Church
  • Free North Church
  • Balnain House
  • St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church
  • Inverness Cathedral
Inverness Castle

1) Inverness Castle (must see)

Inverness Castle is a 19th century, red sandstone castle that rests on the bank of the River Ness. It is the latest castle built on a site that has held a number of structures over the years. The earliest castle was built in 1057 by Malcolm III of Scotland.

The current structure was designed by a series of architects who made plans for different areas of the castle. William Burn designed the Sheriff Court. Joseph Mitchell designed the enclosing walls. Thomas Brown II designed the prison, which was later renamed to the District Court.

Visitors to Inverness will have an excellent view of the castle by walking along Castle Road next to the River Ness. Visitors may enter the north tower, but the remainder of the castle is not open for public tours.
Tollbooth Steeple

2) Tollbooth Steeple

Not far from Inverness Town House is another notable city landmark - a Georgian tollbooth steeple. This steeple was built beside the adjoining Old Court House and Jail in 1791. It rises 45 meters in the air and houses several bronze bells.
Inverness Town House

3) Inverness Town House

Inverness Town House is a municipal building located on High Street between Castle Street and Castle Wynd. The Gothic-style building was designed by architect William Lawrie in 1882. The house was built to replace the very first town house in Inverness, which was built in 1708 and demolished 150 years later.

The house was modeled on the McManus, a museum and art gallery that was designed by George Gilbert Scott. A burgh coat of arms, recovered from a bridge that crossed the River Ness, is embedded in the ashlar stone from which the townhouse is comprised. That coat of arms dates to 1685 when the bridge was completed.

An update on the town house took place in 1898 when William Meikle & Sons installed stained glass windows to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The building was also extended in 1907. It did not undergo a major refurbishment again until 2018.

The Inverness Town House is known for containing a large number of works of art. Those who wish to see the inside of the town house should try to schedule a tour in advance. These tours take place on Thursdays at 2 PM and 3:30 PM.
Victorian Market

4) Victorian Market

Located on Academy Street, Inverness Victorian Market is a unique shopping spot in the city. The main entrance on Academy Street has three round arches. This historic market was rebuilt in 1890 and reflects the splendor of the Victorian era. It includes the Market Arcade, which stretches from Academy Street to Union Street and Queensgate. The market is covered by a marvelous Victorian cast-iron and wooden-domed roof. Here you will find 45 shops and a nice café where you can rest after finishing your shopping.
Inverness East Church

5) Inverness East Church

Inverness East Church is an evangelical church situated on the corner of Margaret Street and Academy Street. The building has stood here for more than two centuries, and the oldest part of the church dates back to 1798. To learn more about Sunday services and other events, check out the church's web site.
Old High Church

6) Old High Church

Old High St Stephen's Church is a parish church of the Church of Scotland in Inverness. The congregation was formed on 30 October 2003 by a union of the congregations of Inverness Old High and Inverness St Stephen's. Unusually in a union of Church of Scotland congregations, both buildings were retained for worship. Sunday services are held almost every Sunday in both buildings (at 10 am at St Stephen's and 11.15 am at the Old High), but both places of worship are under the jurisdiction of the one Kirk Session.

The Old High congregation was the oldest congregation in Inverness. It is on a site which has been used for worship since Celtic times. St Stephen's was founded as a “daughter church” of the Old High in 1897. It is a Gothic building in Morayshire freestone, designed by WL Carruthers. The congregation serves a parish area which includes the city centre, part of the Crown area, and the southern suburbs of the city, including Drummond and Lochardil.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Dunbar's Hospital

7) Dunbar's Hospital

Dunbar's Hospital was built in 1668 as a hospital and a home for the impoverished. The hospital has a rough-cast, harled finish and dormer windows surrounded by decorative brickwork. The arched doorway offers the same brickwork and a protective iron gate.

Above the door is a plaque that shows the coat of arms of Provost Alexander Dunbar, founder of the hospital. This plaque, with a date of 1676, is a reproduction of the original. Those who wish to see the original plate can find it at the Inverness Museum.

Dunbar's Hospital was used as a school until the Royal Academy opened in 1792. It was also, at times, divided into apartments, used for shops and as a senior citizen's center. It briefly returned to use as a hospital during the 1849 Cholera Epidemic. Today, the hospital is divided into a senior citizen's day center and a restaurant that is open on weekends from 9 AM to 4 PM.

The hospital is rumored to have been built from stone that was discarded from Oliver Cromwell's destroyed citadel.
Abertarff House

8) Abertarff House

Abertarff House is the oldest house in Inverness. It is a 2 1/2 story town house that was built in 1593. It is not known who originally owned the large home. What is known is that Clan Fraser purchased the home in 1793. Alexander Fraser was the first Fraser to live in the Abertarff House and many more would follow.

The home was purchased by the Commercial Bank of Scotland in the 1800s to be used as housing. Once it fell into disrepair, the bank gifted the property to the National Trust for Scotland. Abertarff House was restored to its current condition in 1966.

Open hours may vary. Interior tours are offered on some weekends. Friday hours are 1 PM to 7 PM. Saturday hours are 11 AM to 7 PM and Sunday hours are 11 AM to 6 PM. Those who cannot take a tour inside the house should still plan to stop by to see the beautiful, unique and historic architecture of the building.
St. Columba High Church

9) St. Columba High Church

St. Columba High Church is dedicated to Saint Columba. It stands on Bank Street at the site of an old brewery. It was built by MacKenzie and Matthews between 1851 and 1852 in the Perpendicular Gothic style. The church was badly damaged by fire in 1939 but was restored between 1948 and 1953 to its current state. Sunday morning services begin at 10:30 A.M.
Free North Church

10) Free North Church

The Free North Church is a historic, Protestant church in Inverness. It rests on Bank Street at the northeast bank of the River Ness. The Free North Church is located near a number of other tourist destinations in the city. Some of these include the Grieg Street Bridge, Inverness Castle and the Egypt War Memorial.

The Gothic-style church was completed in 1893 from a design by architect Alexander Ross. The grand-size of the church allows for a congregation of up to 1,300. The church offers a tower, stair-tower, gable and porch. Its octagonal spire, which reaches 170 feet, is the tallest in the city.

Visitors can explore the grounds of the Free North Church, including the historic cemetery. Those wanting to join the church during worship are welcome to be part of the congregation during the 11 AM or 5:30 PM services on Sundays.
Balnain House

11) Balnain House

Balnain House is located on Huntly Street and was built in 1726 in the early Georgian style as a town house. This historic building served as a hospital for Hanoverian soldiers after the Battle of Culloden. The building was restored and now houses the offices of The National Trust for Scotland.
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church

12) St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church

On Huntly Street, across the river from St. Columba High Church, you will find St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. The church features a Gothic facade with crocheted pinnacles and open parapets. It was constructed in 1837 by William Robertson, but by 1894 the church had become too small to accommodate the growing congregation and the building was expanded. Inside you will find an altar made of Caen stone, as well as some beautiful stained glass. Sunday morning services begin at 10:00 A.M.
Inverness Cathedral

13) Inverness Cathedral (must see)

Inverness Cathedral is a Scottish Episcopal Church on the banks of the River Ness. The cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, is the seat of of the Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness. It was the first new Protestant cathedral built in Britain after the Reformation.

Inverness Cathedral was built in 1869 from a design by architect Alexander Ross. The cathedral is made from red tarradale stone and peterhead granite. The cathedral is noted for having the most northerly change-ringing church bells in the world.

The cathedral welcomes visitors throughout the year. The church doors are open from 10 AM to 4 PM daily. Likewise, the cathedral's gift shop and cafe are open every day except Christmas. A cathedral supervisor is on-hand to help with any questions.

Along with church services, Inverness Cathedral regularly hosts live music events, morning coffee and special events. Tourists are welcome to attend church services and any of the special events as they please.

Walking Tours in Inverness, Scotland

Create Your Own Walk in Inverness

Create Your Own Walk in Inverness

Creating your own self-guided walk in Inverness 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.
Inverness Introduction Walking Tour

Inverness Introduction Walking Tour

Often regarded as the Capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is steeped in history and legend. The name "Inverness" derives from the Scottish Gaelic "Inbhir Nis," which means "mouth of the River Ness," a fitting moniker for a city that thrives along the banks of this scenic waterway.

The Inverness area has been inhabited since 6500 BC, once being a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles