Edinburgh Castle

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Entry portcullis to Edinburgh Castle.
The imposing entry portcullis to Edinburgh Castle.

Perched high atop Castle Rock is the mighty Edinburgh Castle. Looming over Scotland’s capital city for some 900 years, this fortress is home to history, tradition and amazing views, delighting both locals and tourists alike.

At the western end of the Royal Mile, is the only entrance to Edinburgh Castle; its Esplanade is home to the evening summertime performances of the world famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Rows of seating line the grounds where members of the British Army and visiting troops put on a grand show. My visit today would not include a viewing of this event as we arrived too early and neglected to purchase tickets in advance.

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

At the heart of the castle is the tiny St. Margaret’s Chapel. It is the oldest extant structure within the castle grounds, dating back to the 12th century. Within its thick stone walls is a simple shrine consisting of an altar beneath a miniature stained glass window.

One of the larger attractions is Mons Meg, a cannon to put all others to shame. Now silent, this grand bombard has a diameter of 20 inches, and fired massive round stone balls. This weapon was a gift to James II of Scotland from the Duke of Burgundy in the mid-15th century.

There is still an active cannon; at precisely 1:00 pm, a shot rings out over the New Town as a time signal. This is the One O’Clock Gun — it operates similar to the Nine O’Clock Gun in Vancouver, with one key difference: it’s manually fired as opposed to the remote operation back home in our west coast city. It’s reportedly fired at 1:00 pm and not an hour earlier at 12:00 noon to save costs on powder as a single shot uses much less than twelve.

Great Hall
Inside the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle.

Crown Square is home to the Royal Palace, the Great Hall and the Scottish National War Memorial. The Royal Palace is home to the apartments and quarters used by Scotland’s royalty over the years, many which are beautifully decorated. It’s also home to the Honours of Scotland: a crown, sword and stone used by monarchs as part of their coronation and right to rule. The Great Hall is a huge chamber where the royal court was held. The Scottish National War Memorial honours the men and women who’ve served and given their lives since the World War I, with their names inscribed within. Photography was not permitted inside as a sign of respect.

Edinburgh Castle is a great destination for its history, its traditions and its place in safeguarding the city it overlooks.  Edinburgh Castle is open from 9:30 am in the morning to about 6:00 pm in the evening during summer. Tickets are available at the fortress entrance on the west end of the Royal Mile.

Photos from my visit to Edinburgh Castle are available on Gallery.

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