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The Ultimate History Buffs Guide to Edinburgh

Guide to Edinburgh

The old-world charm of Edinburgh mixed with newer architecture in the newer parts of the city make it a rather interesting and eclectic place to visit. Bring your sense of adventure for European travel and your love of the past to Scotland and check out the history buffs guide to Edinburgh! 

The Ultimate History Buffs Guide to Edinburgh

If you are a major history buff, Edinburgh is where you want to spend your next vacation. The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is picturesque and compact with the historic Edinburgh Castle regaling standing in the background. Dust off your history books and study up on this iconic Scottish city. 

Filled with amazing medieval architecture, amazing monuments, and memorials, Edinburgh is a must-see. But when you are exploring this historic city, be sure to drop your bags at an Edinburgh luggage storage locker for safekeeping. 

Edinburgh Castle

Kick-off your exploration of historic Edinburgh at Edinburgh Castle, one of the most iconic sites in all of Scotland. Built during the 12th century, the castle proudly stands on Castle Rock and is a very prominent landmark above the city. 

Edinburgh Castle has withstood 26 sieges, the birth of James I of England and James VI of Scotland, and the death of Marie of Guise. The crown jewels are also housed here as is the Stone of Destiny, which is also called the Stone of Scone. 

Plan your visit so you can hear the One O’clock Salute, cannons blasting from the Half Moon Battery. Then visit the Scottish National War Memorial and National War Museum, both at the castle. Get your tickets early to skip the long lines. 

Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey

Holyrood Palace, or the Palace of Holyroodhouse, is the official residence of the Queen when in Edinburgh. The palace was built in 1678 and has seen much history, including the weddings of James II and James IV and the coronation of James V and Charles I.

The public can tour the palace when the queen is not in residence; she is generally only in Edinburgh for Royal Week. Be sure to check out the State Apartments and the Historic Apartments, the former home of Mary Queen of Scots. 

Stroll through the Queen’s Gallery and the Great Gallery filled with portraits of past royals. The tour also includes the Holyrood Abbey, built during the 12th century by King David I. Grab your tickets early, history buffs do not want to miss it!

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE)

History lovers will truly enjoy visiting the second oldest botanic garden in Europe. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the largest gardens in the world, with 70 acres and home to over 13,200 plant species. 

While here, check out the herbarium that has over three million different specimens. One of the biggest palm houses in Europe can also be found here as well as a tropical house, alpine house, and several terraced gardens.

Stroll through the arboretum and view giant and rare trees from China, the Himalayas, and North America. Drop by the visitors’ center and see some of the education programs offered. 

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is a treasure trove of medieval artifacts, natural history, art, geology, archaeological collections, and scientific discoveries. History buffs will delight in all the things to see and experience at this museum. 

With 16 different galleries and over 8,000 artifacts, the National Museum of Scotland is one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh. Learn about the world’s first cloned animal, the sheep named Dolly. 

A favorite for many visitors is the collection of Sir Elton John’s stage costumes. Check out one of the first guillotines, called the Maiden, and stroll through Ancient Egypt. Book your free tickets online and skip the long lines. 

Scottish National Gallery

While some history buffs may not find art as important as tangible artifacts from times gone by, but art really is a way to see history come alive. There is no better place to view Scotland’s best artwork than the Scottish National Gallery. 

The national gallery was opened in 1859 and is one of the biggest art collections in Scotland. Stroll through the gallery and enjoy European sculptures and paintings from the Renaissance era through the Post-Impressionists era. 

Grab your tickets online and head over to the art museum while in Edinburgh. Sign up for a guided tour, sit in on a lecture, and even sign up for art classes when you visit the Scottish National Gallery. 

St. Giles Cathedral

History lovers can easily spend an entire day exploring St. Giles Cathedral. The church was consecrated in 1243, but the current building was built during the 1300s and is truly a sight you do not want to miss when in Edinburgh. 

With over a million visitors each year, St. Giles Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is the principal church of the city. The impressive structure is best known for its central tower that stands 161 feet tall. 

Check out the Crown Steeple and the eight arched buttresses, then head indoors and view the statue of John Knox, the leader of the Protestant Reformation. Visit the Thistle Chapel and view the Knights of the Thistle seals. 

Greyfriars Church

Stroll down Candlemakers Row and visit Greyfriars Church, or better known as Greyfriars Kirk. The oldest cemetery in Edinburgh is located here. You can wander through and find the headstones of notable Scots such as Allan Ramsay the poet. 

Learn about Greyfriars Bobby, the Skye Terrier owned by John Gray. Bobby followed Gray’s casket to the cemetery and refused to leave his master’s grave. Bobby lived at the cemetery for 14 years. A statue of Bobby stands just outside the church. 

Check the schedule before heading to the church to make sure they are accepting visitors. Take time to visit the museum located inside the church. 

Bring your sense of adventure and your love of history when you book your trip to Edinburgh. This iconic city is filled with so much history; you do not have to search hard to be immersed in the culture and history of Scotland’s Edinburgh. 

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