After a great first day in Edinburgh and a nice restful sleep that night, we woke up refreshed and ready for another day of exploring Edinburgh!
What was on the menu for today? Our plan was to visit Holyrood Palace in the morning and then explore Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and the New Town in the afternoon.
But first, there was something important to deal with – breakfast! So we wandered from our hostel down to Sainsbury’s for a grab-and-go breakfast! We loved how just walking from our hostel to the supermarket, we got to take in some iconic sights, like these telephone boxes/booths and even a castle!
It was a gorgeous day in Edinburgh. So we got to see Edinburgh Castle with a backdrop of blue sky and sunshine. It certainly looks different in the sunshine!
After getting our breakfast and a little picnic for lunch, we slowly wandered down the Royal Mile towards the Palace of Holyroodhouse, enjoying the late September sunshine and admiring all the historic and character buildings along the way.
As we neared the bottom of the Royal Mile, we walked by the Scottish Parliament building, which looks very contemporary and different from the other buildings along the Royal Mile.
Finally, we arrived at our destination for this morning – the Palace of Holyroodhouse or Holyrood Palace.
This palace has been a royal residence for over 500 years. Over the years, there have been additions, destructions and changes to the palace and its grounds – making it the way it is now! Today, Holyrood Palace is the official residence in Scotland for the British monarchy. The Queen usually spends 1 week at Holyrood Palace every summer.
As with our visit to Edinburgh Castle, we got our tickets ahead of time online. Tickets cost £12.00 currently and also includes an audio guide to tell you more about this impressive palace as you walk through it.
After getting our tickets checked, we strolled through the Guardhouse and entered the Forecourt. How impressive is this!
To pass through into the Palace, we walked through another set of doors, this one with the Royal Arms of Scotland majestically above it.
No photographs are allowed inside the palace, so you’ll have to visit and experience this grand palace for yourself! We got to explore the palace with the included audio guide, which provided a lot of great information on the history and architecture of the palace, the people who designed the palace and the various additions, as well as the stories of the kings and queens who resided here.
We got to see the State Apartments, which includes the Royal Dining Room, the Throne Room and various drawing rooms. All of these are still used by members of the Royal Family for dinners, receptions and other state events when they are in Edinburgh. All of these rooms are richly decorated, with velvet, ornate furnishings, paintings, intricate plasterwork and incredibly detailed tapestries. Several tapestries were brought up from Buckingham Palace by order of Queen Victoria during her reign and these tapestries still hang on the walls of Holyrood Palace today! We also had the chance to see the Great Gallery, the King’s Apartments, the Queen’s Apartments.
What we found particularly interesting was the chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots. Her chambers were on the second floor of James V’s Tower. It was intriguing to hear about her life, what happened in her chambers – particularly the Outer Chamber where David Rizzio was murdered and where there is allegedly a bloodstain that could not be washed out. The Outer Chamber currently has on display a large collection of relics and treasures that are associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, the Darnley family, the Stuart family.
After exploring the inside of the palace, we headed outside to explore the Holyrood Abbey. There are guided tours available during the summer months but we just spent our own time wandering through the beautiful ruins.
Holyrood Abbey was founded by David I in 1128, after which additional buildings were added to serve the growing community in this area. By the 15th century, there may have been guesthouses, and later royal apartments, built to accommodate royalty here at Holyrood. Many significant events such as births, coronations and marriages occurred here, as royalty preferred Holyrood instead of Edinburgh Castle. However, throughout the centuries, much damage had been done to the Abbey – from wars, raids, mobs to the collapse of the abbey roof during a storm. Today, the nave is the only part of the original Abbey that remains standing.
We really enjoyed our time in the Abbey – admiring the beautiful architecture of the ruins.
After visiting the Abbey, we explored the palace gardens. The Gardens of Holyroodhouse are very expansive and include amazing views of Arthur’s Seat. The Queen hosts an annual Garden Party here in July! (That would definitely be THE party of the year, if we were ever invited!)
There is a café – aptly named Café at the Palace, should you need some refreshments after your visit to the Palace and Gardens. They even serve Afternoon Tea here or for a special occasion – they serve a Champagne Afternoon Tea at the café!
As our final stop, we walked through the gift shop, which was full of corgis, plaid-wearing teddy bears, gorgeous tea sets and some Christmas ornaments! We both got this Piper Teddy Ornament to remember our trip to Holyrood Palace!
Our biggest regret? That we didn’t buy all the Corgi-themed souvenirs – from the stuffed animals to the cozy Corgi slippers and Corgi-topped pencils! Looks like a trip back to Holyrood is in order to stock up on these! 😉
After waking out of the palace grounds, we crossed the street and looked up at… Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags.
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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