Visiting the Royal Mile in Edinburgh
The Royal Mile in Edinburgh refers to a network of streets in the Old Town quarter of Edinburgh. The Royal Mile runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Abbey, two of Scotland’s most famous historic landmarks. Edinburgh Castle is built atop a crag of volcanic rock named Castle Rock and was a royal home for all the Scottish kings from the 1200’s on. After the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603, Edinburgh Castle fell into disuse as a royal castle and became a military garrison instead. It is still one of the most important historical monuments in Scotland, having figured in many key battles throughout Scottish history.
Holyrood Abbey is a historical structure as well but has fallen into ruin. It was built in 1128 by the Scottish king, David I. After the Scottish Reformation, the abbey was used as a parish church until the 1700s but has lain in ruins since the 1800s. The Parliament of Scotland met at the Abbey in the 1250’s and on through 1410. Robert the Bruce held Parliament at the Abbey as well and also used it as his palace. During the 1500s, the Scottish kings used the Abbey’s dwelling quarters for their royal households. King James II was crowned at Holyrood as was Charles I of England.
There are six streets that interconnect in the Royal Mile forming one of Edinburgh’s busiest tourist areas. These streets form a picturesque network of various tourist shops, taverns and cafés. One of these streets, Castlehill, marks the boundary for the Castle Esplanade which was originally a parade ground for soldiers in the 1800s. Castlehill is a narrow cobbled street flanked on either side by tall buildings dating from the 1700s with charming architecture and facades. At the foot of Castlehill is the St. John’s Church with its impressive Gothic towers and arched windows. Another street, Lawnmarket, formerly the old linen market, is known for its tourist shops as well as 17th century gabled townhouses. Nearby is St. Gile’s Cathedral which is known as the High Church of Edinburgh. Near St. Giles’ is a unique heart shaped monument built into the cobblestones which is known as the Heart of Midlothian and was made famous in a novel by Sir Walter Scott by that name. The emblem of the Edinburgh soccer team is taken from this Heart.
The Royal Mile is also the location of the yearly Edinburgh Festival, a festival of culture and the arts—the largest festival of its kind in the world and is based in High Street. Many of the top Edinburgh hotels can be found within close proximity of this historic stretch of road. The center of Scotland’s court system is also based in the Royal Mile.
Photo provided by tie78reu