Holyrood is one of the most renowned castles in the UK. An official residence of Queen Elizabeth, this castle in Edinburgh is where the royal family stays when visiting the Scottish capital. It also plays host to state ceremonies and other official events, though this doesn't mean that it is off-limits for tourists. When official events aren't going on at Holyrood Palace and the royal family isn't in town, visitors are welcome, and this is one attraction that is definitely worth adding to the agenda.

Holyrood Castle history, as is true of the history of Scotland in general, is a storied one. Originally founded as a monastery in 1128, the original castle became a palace in the sixteenth century, thanks to King James IV. Not much remains of this original palace, however. Instead, Holyrood Palace as you see it today was mostly built in the 1670s under Charles II. Other renovations were carried out prior to the arrival of Charles II, and throughout the castle's history, an interesting mix of monarchies were among its primary residents. Perhaps the most interesting of all these past residents was Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary Queen of Scots reigned Scotland from 1542 to 1567, and the Holyrood Palace is where she spent the majority of her life. It's also where her private Italian secretary, David Rizzio, was murdered. Rizzio was stabbed to death in the castle by Lord Darnley and his accomplices. Lord Darnley was Mary's husband at the time, and the motive was jealousy. The wing in which this famous murder took place survives to this day, and you might be interested to know that it is actually the palace's oldest surviving part. Should you choose to take a tour of Holyrood Palace, you can venture into this wing and let your imagination run wild. Worth noting is the fact that there are some interesting exhibits in this wing. Among them is a piece of needlework that was done by Mary herself.

Other monarchs that called Holyrood home were Bonnie Prince Charlie, James VII, and King Charles X from France, and when you consider the palace's royal history, it is only appropriate that it be found along Edinburgh's Royal Mile. This part of Old Town stretches from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle, and found along its stretch are the Museum of Edinburgh and a variety of other great attractions. As such, you could easily spend a lot of time in this part of town.

Should you wish to tour Holyrood Palace, it opens daily at 9:30 a.m., save for when official business is going on. Closing time is 6 p.m. between the months of April and October, and 4:30 p.m. November through March. The admission price includes and audio tour, and should you wish, you can pay extra to visit the Queen's Gallery. This gallery displays works from the royal family's personal collection. After your tour of the castle's interior is finished, you might relax in the large park out back. Holyrood Park, as this park is known, is an excellent place for a picnic, and should you hike to the top of a hill that is known as Arthur's Seat, you'll be treated to some divine views of the Scottish capital.

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