Tour of Britain: Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland

The city of Edinburgh is the second largest city in Scotland, and the seventh largest city in Britain. It is also the Capital of Scotland, and has been since the 15th Century.

High Street,  the Royal Mile
High Street,
the Royal Mile

The political power of Scotland was at this city until 1603, when the Union of the Crowns united the Scottish and English rule. Political control was then moved south to London. Further governmental control was lost to Scotland in 1707 with the passing of the Union of Parliaments. Some self-rule was returned in 1999 with the reestablishment of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. In 2014 Scotland voted to stay as a part of Great Britain, or to separate. They voted to remain with Britain. One of the most distinguishing landmarks of Edinburgh is its castle. Towering over the city on top of Castle Rock, a volcanic plug from an extinct volcano. Edinburgh Castle has been the seat of Scots power since the 12th Century.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Built when fortresses were the main form of defense, it was the home of the Scottish Kings and Queens. Mary, Queen of the Scots gave birth to James VI, who later became King James I of England and Scotland, in a small room in the castle. As siege canon came into use against castles its great walls gave little protection. Due to this most of the older sections of the castle were destroyed. The only 12th Century structure that still remains is St. Margaret’s Chapel.

St. Margaret's Chapel
St. Margaret’s Chapel

The castle has a BIG siege canon of its own, Mons Meg. This canon, weighing 13,000 pounds could fire a 330 lb. gun stone for miles. Today Edinburgh Castle is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Scottish National War Memorial and Museums. You can even rent the Great Hall for your wedding or event.

The hall where the Scottish Crown Jewels are kept.
The hall where the Scottish Crown Jewels are kept

I had thought that Edinburgh was just about the castle towering over the city. But what I found out is that it is the epicenter of English literature. The poet Robert Burns lived in Edinburgh, and it was also the birthplace of Sir Walter Scott and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. During our visit to this city we saw row after row of townhouses with parks and gardens across the street from the residents. One townhouse was the home of a young boy by the name of Robert Louis Stevenson. Who played on an Island in the pond of one of the parks, his own Treasure Island. It was also in Edinburgh that Stevenson heard of the double life of one of its residents, Deacon Brodie. Who by day was a pious cabinet maker and respected official. But at night he was a burglar and thief. This inspired Stevenson to write his The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Kings Stable Road and West Port Street
Kings Stable Road and West Port Street

Another townhouse is where J.K. Rowling lived while she wrote the first Harry Potter book. We saw the boys’ Public School that gave Rowling the idea for Hogwarts. Just down the road from that school was the school that Ian Flaming attended. And just a little further was the Edinburgh College of Art, where a young Edinburgh native worked as a male model, his name, Sean Connery.

If you are thinking of visiting Edinburgh plan on staying at least a week. There is so much to see, to do and to experience.

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