Edinburgh Castle – A Cut Above the Rest
Edinburgh Castle is the grandest castle in Scotland and the history and growth of the country and the castle have been closely intertwined over the centuries. The structure, built on a huge volcanic Craig known as Castle Rock, dominates the city. It is visible from everywhere and offers the most spectacular view from every elevation. On a clear day you can see the mountains of the Kingdom of Fife in the distance and immediately below you are the world famous Princes Street Gardens.
Edinburgh Castle is a defensive structure that has evolved continuously to meet the military needs of the times. It has been attacked thirteen times over the centuries. It is an active military base even today and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Britain. The rock saw the development of the city around it and an early name for the settlement was Din Eidyn, which was anglicized to Edinburgh.
The castle was first built by King David I who ruled between1124 to 1153 and it grew in importance during the reign of the Stewarts. James III, who lived in it, extended it in the mid 1400s, building the palaces around Crown Square. The Great Hall with its ornate wooden ceiling, which now houses a collection of weapons and armor, was built by James IV in 1511. During Napolean’s times, fearing an attack, the seven storied “New Barracks” was constructed on the western end to house 600 troops.
Not much remains today of the earlier structures and the oldest building in the castle is St Margaret’s Chapel, a tiny 900 year old Norman building. It is the oldest building in the city still intact. One can also see the tiny room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI. The Crown Room exhibits the Crown, Sceptre and Sword of Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle has an interesting custom when a gun called the One O’ Clock Gun is fired every day except Sunday at precisely 1.00pm for the city to check its time! The Castle Esplanade at the end of the Royal Mile is the venue of the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo every August.