Edinburgh Subway Map

Edinburgh Subway Map

SIGHTS

A boggling array of Edinburgh tour companies tout themselves as “the original” or “the scariest,” but the most worthwhile is the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour. Led by professional actors, this alcohol-sodden 2hr. crash course in Scottish literature meets outside the Beehive Inn in the Grassmarket. (226 6665. June-Sept. daily 7:30pm; Nov.-Mar. F 7:30pm; Oct. and Apr.-May Th-Su 7:30pm. £8, students £6.) Of the many tours exploring Edinburgh’s dark and gristly past, the City of the Dead Tour and its promised one-on-one encounter with the MacKenzie Poltergeist is most popular. (40 Candlemaker Row. 225 9044. Apr.-Oct. daily 8:30, 9:15, and 10pm; Nov.-Mar. 7:30 and 8:30pm. £6, concessions £5.)

THE OLD TOWN AND THE ROYAL MILE

Edinburgh’s medieval center, the fascinating Royal Mile defines Old Town and passes many classic and worthwhile sights. The Old Town once packed thousands of inhabitants into a scant few square miles, with narrow shop fronts and slum buildings towering to a dozen stories.

EDINBURGH CASTLE. Perched atop an extinct volcano and dominating the city center, the castle is a testament to Edinburgh’s past strategic importance. The castle is the result of centuries of renovation and rebuilding; the most recent additions date to the 1920s. The One O’Clock Gun fires daily (except Su) at lpm. (Open Apr.-Oct. daily 9:30am-6pm; Nov.-Mar. 9:30am-5pm. Last admission 45min. before closing. £8.50, seniors £6.25, children £2. Under-5 free. Audio tours £3.)

CASTLE HILL AND LAWNMARKET AREA. The oldest surviving house on the Royal Mile, Gladstone’s Land (circa 1617) has been carefully preserved and now houses a fine collection of 17th-century Dutch art. (477b Lawnmarket St. Open Apr.-Dec. M-Sa 10am-5pm, Su 2-5pm. £3.50, students £2.60.) Nearby, the 17th-century Lady Stair’s House contains the Writer’s Museum, featuring memorabilia and manuscripts belonging to three of Scotland’s greatest literary figures: Robert Bums, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. (Lawnmarket St. Open M-Sa 10am-5pm; during festival season M-Sa 10am-5pm, Su 2-5pm. Free.) For incredible views of the city, try the Outlook Tower on Castle Hill. Its 150-year old camera obscura captures a moving image of the streets below, while its various illusionary exhibits will certainly entertain. (Open daily 10am-5pm. Tower and camera obscura £6, concessions £4.60.)

HIGH STREET AND CANONGATE AREA. Near the Castle, through Mylne’s Close, the Scottish Parliament convenes in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall; guests are welcome to watch the MPs debate. The Visitors Centre is nearby, at the corner of the Royal Mile and the George IV Bridge. (s348 5411. Open Sept.-June. Tickets must be reserved in advance. Free. Visitors Centre open M-F 10am-5pm. Free.) In 2004, Scotland’s seat of government will move to the new Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood. The new structure was designed by late Catalan architect

Enric Miralles. (Off Holyrood Rd. Open daily 10am-4pm. Free.) At the beautiful H High Kirk of St. Giles (St. Giles Cathedral), Scotland’s principal church, John Knox delivered the fiery Presbyterian sermons that drove Mary, Queen of Scots, into exile. Most of the present structure was built in the 15th century, but parts of the the kirk date as far back as 1126. The cathedral now hosts free concerts throughout the year. (Where Lawnmarket St. becomes High St. Open Easter to mid-Sept. M-F9am-7pm, Sa 9am-5pm, Su l-5pm; mid-Sept. to Easter M-Sa 9am-5pm, Su l-5pm. Suggested donation £1.) The 17th-century Canongate Kirk, on the steep hill at the end of the Mile, is the resting place of economist Adam Smith; royals used to worship here when in residence. (Same hours as High Kirk. Free.)

THE PALACE OF HOLYROODHOUSE. This Stewart palace sitting at the base of the Royal Mile beside Holyrood Park remains Queen Elizabeth II’s official Scottish residence; as a result, only parts of the ornate interior are open to the public. On the palace grounds lie the 12th-century ruins of Holyrood Abbey, which was built by David I in 1128 and was ransacked during the Scottish Reformation. (Open Apr.-Oct. daily 9:30am-6pm; Nov.-Mar. M-Sa 9:30am-4:30pm; last admission 45min. before closing. Closed during official residences. £7.50, concessions £6. Free audio guide.)

OTHER SIGHTS IN THE OLD TOWN. The ESMuseum of Scotland and the connected Royal Museum, on Chambers St. just south of the George IV Bridge, are not to be missed. The former houses a definitive collection of Scottish artifacts in a stunning contemporary building; highlights include the working Corliss Steam Engine and the Maiden, Edinburgh’s pre-French Revolution guillotine. The Royal Museum contains a varied mix of European art and ancient Egyptian artifacts. (Open M and IV-Sa 10am-5pm, Tu 10am-8pm, Su noon-5pm. Free.) Just across the street stands the statue of Greyfriar’s loyal pooch, Bobby, marking the entrance to Greyfriar’s Kirk, built in 1620 and surrounded by a beautiful and supposedly haunted churchyard. (OffCandlemakerRow. Gaelic services Su 12:30pm, English 11am. Open Apr.-Oct. M-F 10:30am-4:30pm, Sa until 2:30pm; Nov.-Mar. Th l:30-3:30pm. Free.)

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