Dominating the City skyline, visible across the cityscape, Edinburgh Castle sits atop the abrasive volcanic rock towering over the beautiful brownstone architecture to help create a unique landscape that no other major City can compete with.
This backdrop will always create a compelling case for any visitor to the City to visit the Castle. A walk up the High Street, which today was glimmering with the Christmas lights from the ornate shops bouncing bright colours onto the wet pebbles of a traditional misty, wintry, Scottish afternoon, was an attractive proposition leading us face to face with the imposing castle entrance.
How many of you have actually stepped inside the fortified walls however and seen what is hidden by these vast turrets? Whilst not the cheapest attraction in the City, there is more than a walk around the castle defences once inside. Our first port of call was the National War museum, welcoming us out of the cold hard rainfall with a detailed and poignant exhibition which narrates the history of Scotland at war. From the early clans, through the Jacobean conflict, up to chemical warfare of recent times the wealth of examples on show would be worthy of a trip alone.
From there it was into the old prisoner block and a lively recreation of how incarcerated prisoners of war were consigned to the castle before venturing to the Great Hall, beautifully restored with its original roof and colossal fireplaces, conjuring images of vast banquets from yesteryear. Next up came the Honours of Scotland, AKA Scotlands crown jewels. These are, pardon the pun, the jewel in the crown of this exhibition, prior to viewing these there are further displays telling the story of the Honours, and the extensive path this jewellery has taken before the resting place you can view them now.
After more tales of Scotlands bloody warring history its worth taking stock inside the Scottish National War Memorial. This monolithic building of grey stone beautifully pays tribute to those that fell during the World Wars fighting in Scottish regiments, its sombre beauty perfectly pervading in the austere dusky tomb.
There is so much to see and a busy day is guaranteed when you visit the Castle. Other items of note were the huge iconic Mons Meg canon, firing upon castle assailants since the 1400’s and St Margarets Chapel, said to be the oldest building in Edinburgh.
One final view needs to happen however, that from the turrets across the rock towards Princess Street. With views stretching across Edinburgh, Leith and the rail bridge over the Firth of Forth into Fife, you can spend plenty of time taking in this beautiful cityscape. Be prepared to get wet, it is Scotland after all, but as there are a couple of welcoming cafes on site you shouldn’t worry too greatly about this!
A great day out and a must-see for anybody visiting or living in Edinburgh.
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