Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyrood House and the Queens Gallery

September 22, 2008 at 8:59 pm | Posted in General, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The home of the Queen in Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyrood House – does not disappoint. While the area accessible to tourists is more vintage it is still an interesting peak inside the monarchy and Scotland.

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Entry price (£9.80) includes an audio guide – essential given the lack of information boards. The palace is fascinating and takes about 90 minutes including the gardens and ruined abbey.

in the palace you basically go on a loop of the second floor starting in the dining room and ending in Queen Mary’s bedroom (shown to tourists for generations). The Queen’s bedroom is notable for the death of one of her suitors/advisors – Rizzio. The guide even points to the blood stain on the floor!

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Outside the palace you’ll be able to visit the ruined abbey. After the roof collapsed it was left abandoned. Somewhat odd given that the palace is and city is still inhabited. Nonetheless the result is a cool and picturesque and ambient landmark.

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Beyond the Abbey are the gardens but it only take a few minutes to walk around the publicly accessible areas.

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You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Queens Gallery (an extra £5- including audio guide). The gallery has changing exhibits, during my visit it was showing some Italian Renaissance drawings. It was fine – not great – but I blame my lack of artistic knowledge.

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Overall, the palace should be on your list of places to visit in Edinburgh and is quite the contrast to Buckingham Palace.

More photos on Flickr.

Edinburgh – Edinburgh Castle

September 22, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Edinburgh Castle absolutely dominates the city’s skyline and history. Understandably, it is the city’s biggest tourist atraction and should be on your list to visit.

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As you progress through the castle you’ll learn about the history of the castle through such periods as Robert the Bruce and its modern conservation. Besides the impressive buildings and halls, other areas of interest include the old St Margaret’s Chapel and Mons Meg (a massive gun).

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St Margaret's Chapel

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Mons Meg Canon

 

On a clear day you’ll be able to see far out over the city. Within the castle grounds are other notable sites such as the Scottish War Memorial Museum and the Royal Scots Regimental Museum. Personally, I find it somewhat offensive that the you have to pay for entry into the Castle in order to access the Memorial.

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War Memorial

One of the most important areas is the vault holding the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish crown, sword  and sceptre) as well as the Stone of Destiny. The crown is the oldest surviving crown in Europe. There are many stories as to how they escaped destruction by the Parlemantarians but the end result is that they were sealed in the castle for about 100 years before being re-discovered.

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Entry costs £12 and for an additional £3.50 you can pick up an audio tour (in various languages). If you’re not pressed for time the audio guide is well worth it. I spent about two and a half hours with the audio guide and ducking into all of the smaller museums.

More photos at Flickr.

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Tool who can't read a sign or symbol

Edinburgh – The National Museum of Scotland

September 22, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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The National Museum of Scotland provides a thorough overview of Scotland’s history spaced out of a half dozen floors, culminating with views over the city. The museum charts Scotland’s geographic development and the history of its human inhabitants up to the present day.

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One of my few criticisms of the content is the geological section where the territory of Scotland is seen moving across the world over billions of years. However, the rest of Britain is conspicuously is absent right up to the present period. Conversely, the Welsh Museum had a similar exhibit and it all parts of the landmass were included (at least when they came together). Similarly, I tried to understand when homo sapiens arrived couldn’t find information on this. When asked a guide pointed me to a display on the development of Scottish surnames!

It’s as though the Scottish Museum is trying to to prove uniqueness and independence.

While odd it didn’t detract from the remaining exhibits – although my lack of knowledge means I’m prime material to be misled. Oh well.

The Roman period, particularly the bribing of Scottish Chiefs, was particularly interesting. Most of the museum covers the changing natures of the state, religion, the crown and everyday life. I found the story of the Jacobites and the ever shifting allegiances fascinating. On the other hand I was disappointed by the lack of information about devolution. The section covering it was too brief for a non-Scottish person to appreciate the arguments.

At the end of the museum I feel like I understood more about Scottish history but still feel lacking in my appreciation of Scottish culture.

The museum is located on Chambers Street, Edinburgh. It’s free and worth a visit (put aside about 2 hours).

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More Edinburgh photos at Flickr.

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