Historical Things to See and Do in Edinburgh

Set against a backdrop of hills, crags and rocky cliffs that overlook the North Sea, Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring cities. Intertwined buildings, monuments and landscapes inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to proclaim Edinburgh “a dream in masonry and living rock.” The city has an opulent mix of historical attractions and museums. Because of the great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh is a city of culture, art, literature, science and philosophy. This is why the city is also known as the Athens of the North.

The first stop on any visitor’s itinerary should be Edinburgh Castle. Sitting atop the black, menacing crags of Castle Rock, the citadel has served as a royal residence and military stronghold for centuries. Statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace flank the Entrance Gate. A nearby cobblestone street will lead you to the 16th century Portcullis Gate, Argyle and Mills Mount batteries as well as the One O’Clock Gun. The castle grounds are home to Foog’s Gate, the Mons Meg siege gun and the Romanesque St. Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh’s oldest surviving building.

Visitors will also see the Scottish National War Memorial, the Great Hall and the Royal Palace that houses the Stone of Destiny and the crown jewels known as the Honours of Scotland. The battlements afford a wonderful view of Firth of Forth and New Town.

The National Museum of Scotland enables patrons to trace the nation’s iconic history from its geological beginnings to modern times. The museum’s collection covers archaeology, natural history, industrial and scientific technology. The Scott Monument is a massive Gothic spire built to commemorate the novelist and playwright Sir Walter Scott. The monument’s exterior is adorned with carvings that depict characters from his writings.

The viewing platform atop the monument provides superb panoramic vistas of the city. You can hike the trail to the summit of Arthur’s Seat, a unique facet in Edinburgh’s skyline. It is the remnant of an inactive volcano etched by glacial ice.

Holiday travelers will note the imposing St. Giles Cathedral that dominates High Street. The sanctuary was pivotal in the Scottish Reformation movement. One corner of the nave houses the Gothic style stalls of the Thistle Chapel. Outside the kirk’s western door is a cobblestone that marks the sight of Tolbooth that served as an assembly hall for parliament, a courthouse and a prison. Across from St. Giles is Mary King’s Close, a subterranean maze that provides an interesting perspective at 16th and 17th century life in Edinburgh.

Travelers familiar with Dan Brown and his Da Vinci Code series of novels will not want to miss the symbolic imagery of the 15th century Rosslyn Chapel.

While the mix of old and new provided the perfect setting for the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it also enables Edinburgh to pay homage to its past while embracing the future. Visitors will want to visit Edinburgh to view these attractions and experience all that the Scottish capital has to offer.

Bio this article was written by Ross who writes at http://edinburghguide.org.uk/ and http://travelideas.org.uk/

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