Located in the southeast of Scotland on the Forth estuary, Edinburgh is the country’s second-largest city after Glasgow and, as the cultural as well as political capital, has much to offer travelers.
Although there are lots of attractions in the city, it is the Edinburgh Castle which dominates the city’s skyline. Set atop Castle Rock, it looms over the city below (including the Edinburgh hostels). Its buildings include the 12th century St Margaret’s Chapel - the oldest surviving structure in Edinburgh.
A short walk down from the castle lies the Holyrood Palace and Abbey. The Palace was once a royal residence and home of Mary Queen of Scots, whilst the Abbey was an important Augustinian monastery, although it is now in ruins.
Halfway between the castle and Holyrood Abbey is St Giles’ Cathedral, the historic High Kirk of Edinburgh which dominates the skyline of the Royal Mile despite its relatively bland ‘restoration’ in 1872.
Just opposite St Giles’ Cathedral, visitors can catch a glimpse of historic city life at Mary King’s Close. This intriguing - and unusual - attraction is actually made up of real streets that have been preserved beneath the modern city since being closed over in the 18th century.
Next, there is the Sir Walter Scott Monument which was built in 1846 to commemorate the life of the ‘Ivanhoe’ writer after his death. The 200 feet Gothic spire of the monument can be climbed for fantastic views above the city center.
At the top of the Royal Mile, another insight into Edinburgh’s past can be enjoyed by travelers at Gladstone’s Land. A 17th century Old Town tenement, it has been decorated with period furniture to resemble a typical city house, although it is the painted ceiling which is particularly impressive.
Also in the Old Town, Greyfriars Kirkyard is off the south-west corner of George IV Bridge. This very old graveyard has been more a popular sight than might be expected, thanks to a Disney movie which commemorated the local legend of ‘Greyfriars Bobby.’
Another attractive (and lesser-known) sight in the city is the Camera Obscura show at the top of the Royal Mile. It focuses light from the top of the tower onto a large dish in a dark room below, allowing a 360 degree view of the entire city.
Visitors to Edinburgh may also be interested in the new Scottish Parliament Building, which was uniquely designed by the Spanish architect Enric Miralles and has attracted much controversy from the outset for their choice of location and design.
Finally, a trip to Edinburgh would not be complete Top edinburgh Sightseeing without a trip to the pub! Down in the Grassmarket, the small Black Hart Inn pub dates back to 1516 and serves the usual mix of lager, ale and spirits with great live music every night. On weeknights, musicians tend to play traditional Scottish ballads, although there are more modern acoustic covers on weekends - all in all, the perfect place to grab a drink after a long day sightseeing before heading back to your Edinburgh hostels!
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