Palace of Holyroodhouse aka Holyrood Palace – Edinburgh, Scotland

Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile, opposite Edinburgh Castle, sits the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom, the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Palace of Holyrood HouseThe Palace was constructed by James IV, King of Scots, in the early 16th century, adjacent to Holyrood Abbey, which dates back to 1128. In 1650 fire destroyed the east range of the Palace and in 1671 complete reconstruction began, completed in 1679. The Baroque design of architect Sir William Bruce comprises four wings formed around a central courtyard, the quadrangle.

Palace of Holyrood HouseThe Palace has been the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom since its founding, though there have been periods when the Palace was not utilized by the Crown, primarily when in disrepair. Queen Elizabeth II spends one week each year at Holyrood, during the summer, where she holds court and attends to her official duties.

Palace of Holyrood HouseThe Keeper of Holyrood House is viewed as an important role, so much so, that in 1646 King Charles I conferred the title 1st Duke of Hamilton, which is heritable. Descendents of the 1st Duke have retained this ever since.

Palace of Holyrood HouseThe Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots, are open to the public, although there is no photography allowed there, nor anywhere else inside. Despite the no photography restriction the Palace is certainly worth a visit, especially for history buffs. For paranormals, purportedly the naked ghost of Agnes Sampson (Bald Agnes), who was stripped and tortured in 1591 following her arrest and charge of witchcraft, roams the halls at Holyrood.

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Edinburgh Castle – Scotland

At one end of The Royal Mile, perched atop volcanic Castle Rock offering a commanding view of the city below, sits Edinburgh Castle, with early location references dating back to the Iron Age, when warriors defended a hill fort, approximately the 9th Century BC. Documented reference to a name dates from the 2nd Century AD, when the Romans referred to the site as “Alauna” (rock place), and around 600 AD there is mention of Din Eidyn, or “the stronghold of Eidyn.”
Edinburgh Castle Coat of Arms
There is a long and rich history associated with Alauna aka Castle Rock and the bastion crowning the skyline, with references to a “Castle of Maidens,” circa 1093, a name used until the 16th Century. There had been a royal residence on the site for about 500 years, since David I reigned (circa 1124), until the 17th century when the castle became a military fortress with a large garrison.

The castle has been involved in many of Scotland’s struggles and has been successfully defended, as well as overcome and defeated. Few of the buildings present today pre-date the 16th century Lang Siege, when military bombardment destroyed most of the fortifications, with the oldest being a chapel, which dates from the early 12th Century. Historically, Edinburgh Castle is literally a treasure.
Edinburgh Castle
After a healthy upward-incline hike to the castle’s entrance and strolling through the grounds of the fortress, one can see that it is a large citadel, but the enormity of its size is only fully appreciated when viewed from the north, along Princes Street, taking in the whole of Castle Rock and Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle is the most popular tourist attraction in Scotland, with over 1.3 million visitors logged during 2011. When in the United Kingdom, a trip to this very notable and celebrated stronghold is well worth the visit.

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