Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the most popular attractions in all of Scotland, and this has a lot to do with its historical appeal. Some of the most tumultuous moments in the history of Scotland involved this structure atop Edinburgh's Castle Rock, and you might be interested to know that its chapel is the oldest surviving building in the Scottish capital. Known as St. Margaret's Chapel, this chapel dates back to the early twelfth century, while the castle itself was founded around the year 1000. The earliest version of Edinburgh Castle was built by Malcolm III, and he shared it with his Saxon queen, who would eventually be venerated as St. Margaret.

Edinburgh Castle has the look of a fortress, solid and practical, and thanks to its large size and its hilltop location, it dominates the Edinburgh skyline. The early structure that was built on the site by Malcolm III likely consisted of timber, and as such, it was not prepared to stand the test of time. It was Malcolm III's son, David I, who erected the first formidable castle on the Edinburgh Castle site, and this occurred around the year 1130. Approximately 40 years later, David I's successor, King William, was captured by the English during the Battle of Alnwick, and among the things that he had to surrender in order to secure his release was Edinburgh Castle. The English occupied the structure for twelve years before returning it to King William.

The history of Edinburgh Castle sees the king of England, Edward I, taking control after a three-day siege in 1296. In 1314, the structure was recaptured by the Scots, only to be retaken by the English in 1334. This game of give and take continued for hundreds of years, and as you might expect, the castle was heavily damaged over time as the result of sieges and battles. The castle buildings that visitors see today were mostly built over the past 300 years and hint at the landmark's role as a military garrison. The Edinburgh Castle continues to barrack soldiers, you might be interested to know, and is tumultuous history is on display at the onsite museum. This museum is known as the National War Museum of Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle tours are wildly popular among Scotland tourists, and no visit to the country's capital is arguably complete without taking one. The tours come in the form of free guided tours that are offered by stewards and audio tours that are available for an added fee. Among the highlights in terms of what you can expect to see during the Edinburgh Castle tours is area where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the eventual king of England in 1566. Visitors can also take a look at the prison rooms that housed foreign soldiers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and rare is the person who is not impressed by the Scottish Crown Jewels. There is even a cleverly hidden dog cemetary at the castle.

As is true of Holyrood Palace and a few other top-rated Edinburgh attractions, Edinburgh Castle can be found along the city's famed Royal Mile. Opening hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. April through September, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through March. There is an admission fee if you wish to go inside, and after your guided or audio tour, you might hit the gift shops or get something to eat at one of the cafes.

One of the biggest events in Edinburgh, the Military Tattoo, takes place at the castle each August. It should be noted that you can see fireworks over Edinburgh Castle from time to time, including during the Tattoo, and also worth keeping in mind when planning a visit are the castle concerts. The Edinburgh Castle concerts often feature big name acts, and as far as the fireworks shows are concerned, two of the best are offered on New Year's Eve and during the Edinburgh International Festival in August.

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