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Nestled along the coast of the North Sea lies the picturesque capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. A breathtaking contrast of old and new, this historic city provided inspiration to JK Rowling, who drafted the first chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in one of Edinburgh’s quaint coffee shops while living in Edinburgh.
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One of the most visited attractions is Edinburgh Castle. Perched high on an extinct volcano Castle Rock, the castle shapes the most distinctive feature of the Edinburgh skyline. It is unclear when this area was first inhabited, there is some evidence that it could be as early as the Iron Age, which ranges from 1200 B.C. to 600 B.C. In 600 A.D. records refer to Din Eidyn, with writings appearing in 1093 referencing Saint Margaret residing in the “Castle of Maidens”.
Over the years, the castle was captured and recaptured amid various battles between Scotland and England. In 1991, the castle passed hands one final time to the care of Historic Scotland. Today, visitors can tour the significant historic attractions within the walls of the castle including the One o’clock gun, the Stone of Destiny, the Scottish Crown Jewels, St Margaret’s Chapel and the Royal Palace.
In the shadows of the castle is the oldest part of the capital city known as Old Town. A maze of narrow cobblestone streets, create a fishbone pattern with a series of narrow closes and wynds that lead off the main artery knows as the Royal Mile.
The distinctive road running from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace is lined with numerous shops and restaurants. While strolling the narrow streets, be sure to stop and explore St. Giles Cathedral and the National Museum Scotland. Holyrood Palace at the far end of the Royal Mile allows visitors to visit rooms inhabited by Kings and Queens of Scotland. The Palace contains a number of original rooms from the time of Mary Queen of Scots where visitors can retrace the route taken by plotters who murdered her private secretary David Rizzio from her husband’s bedroom through a private stairway to the Queens apartments. These rooms have been extensively restored and look as they would have in 16th century. Construction of the Palace began in 1501 by Mark Queen of Scots grandfather, James IV in preparation of his marriage to Princess Margaret eldest daughter of King Henry VII of England in 1503. It was extensively remodeled by King Charles II in 1670s. The Palace is the Queens official residence in Scotland.
By contract, New Town, developed between 1767 and 1850 is a reflection of Georgian and Neo-classical architecture. Known for its simplistic design, balance and symmetry, New Town is a series of neat and orderly streets, a strategy found in several major cities throughout the world today.
If you are looking for more royalty, then a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith should be added to your itinerary. When commissioned, this was the royal holiday home and hosted the honeymoons of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York as well as many foreign tours undertaken by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Royal Botanic Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world with over 3,000 exotic plants from around the world living in the 70 acres of the garden.
Edinburgh rolls out the “festival” red carpet each summer with the pinnacle being in August when you can enjoy the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.
For a truly historic and breathtaking break, look no farther than Edinburgh Scotland.