The Royal Mile

Highlights of Edinburgh's historic street

There are lots of things to see on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh but a handful of them stand out as must-see attractions for anyone visiting Edinburgh, whether on a longer holiday or on a short break.

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Edinburgh Castle and Esplanade

At the very top of the Mile lies Edinburgh Castle, Scotland's number one visitor attraction. The Castle sits on top of Castle Rock, an extinct volcano and has been a fortification for over 2,000 years. The view and wealth of display in the castle is well worth a visit. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo also takes place here every August and attracts thousands. It is a sell-out every year.

Palace of Holyrood

Sitting at the bottom of the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace is the Queen's official residence in Scotland. Another famous figure in Scottish history married and lived here -- Mary Queen of Scots. In the immediate vicinity of the palace there are the ruins of Holyrood Abbey and Holyrood Park.

St Giles Cathedral

The High Kirk of Scotland has a history spanning back more than 900 years. With its four main pillars dating back to 1120, St. Giles is one of Edinburgh's most impressive buildings.

St. Giles Cathedral is the second church on the Royal Mile to dominate the skyline. Throughout its history, the church witnessed key moments in Scottish history and massive structural changes within the church itself.

The interior of St. Giles was once divided into four separate churches through thick walls and had to be restored several times. Additions have been made to St. Giles throughout the centuries but some have been demolished. The latest one is the Chapel of the Thistle completed in 1911 which is absolutely incredible.

Mary King's Close

Mary Kings Close is a narrow street just off the Royal Mile offering access to the back of the buildings. This alleyway is a historic and wildly popular tourist attraction depicting life of ordinary people in medieval Edinburgh through stories, myths and tales of a ghost or two.

Camera Obscura

The Camera Obscura just lower down from the Castle Esplanade is a giant camera tower that captures live moving images of the world outside. The view from its tower gives visitors a new perspective of Edinburgh City Centre and the Old Town.

Tolbooth Kirk

Further down the Royal Mile is the Tolbooth Kirk. Originally built to house the Tolbooth congregation and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, this octagonal gothic spire is now official home of the Edinbugh Festival where you can buy tickets for all the shows. The Hub, as it is most widely known, is the tallest church building in Edinburgh and dominates the city's skyline.

Heart of Midlothian

The Heard of Midlothian is an inlaid cobble stone heart on the Royal Mile, outside the front door of St. Giles Cathedral. It marks the entrance to Edinburgh's 15th century Tolbooth.

Initially a booth for collecting tolls, the Tolbooth on the Royal Mile became the city's administrative centre. then a prison with a nearby platform becoming scaffold. Outlaws used to spit on the door of the tolbooth and this tradition is still popular with many Edinburgh folk.

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