Edinburgh Castle is by far my most favorite in the United Kingdom. I have been to numerous fortified castle structures throughout Europe and the UK, and this one has always stood out. It was just not the castle alone, but the encompassing of old town Edinburgh, the Royal Mile, and the castle that created a sound cohesiveness.
The gradual climb up Castle Hill along the Royal Mile has been the path to the castle for centuries. It was where kings, queens, and soldiers had walked or rode. Whenever I approached the castle, it always felt like a great reward. After walking up the steps from New Town, through the narrow closes, then up the Royal Mile to the end of the cliff, until Edinburgh Castle was in view- the reward.
Edinburgh Castle majestically stands on top of castle hill, at the end of the Royal Mile. It was built high on top of an extinct volcano plug, which strategically overlooks Edinburgh. Castle Rock created a natural defense position with steep cliffs along the north and south, and a high acescent from the west. The easiest approach is from the east, which is along the Royal Mile and through the Old Town. Although the castle’s location is strategic, it is known as the most besieged place in Britain.
Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified constructions in Europe with an extensive history as a fortress, royal residence, prison, and military garrison. It was built in the 11th-century, but has been transformed for 1,000 years until the 21st-century.
The castle’s role as the royal residence ended in 1633, as it started to decline during the 15th century. By the 17th century it was primarily used for military purposes as barracks with a large garrison. Today, the castle is the most popular paid attraction in Scotland with over a million visitors per year.
Inside the castle walls you can see the historical layers of transformation from the Royal Palace, James VI Birth Chamber (Mary Queen of Scots’ son), the National War Museum, Half Moon Battery, and much more.
I personally enjoyed visiting the Royal Palace, and viewing the Scottish Crown Jewels, as well the replicas of the Mary Queen of Scots embroideries during her in exile in England. Many of the needlework designs hid subtle messages against Queen Elizabeth, who ordered her imprisonment for almost two decades.
A trip to Edinburgh is not complete without a climb up the Royal Mile with a castle visit as the reward. When I visited, I purchased my ticket ahead of time for a guaranteed entry date, and time as soon as the castle opened. I strongly recommend that since tickets can sell out weeks in advance.
For more information on ticketing and planning your visit ➡ Edinburgh Castle Official Website
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