About Edinburgh Castle:
A mighty fortress, defender of the nation, and home of the famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo - Edinburgh Castle has dominated the skyline for centuries and is part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. It has withstood numerous sieges throughout the centuries and its imposing walls have provided sanctuary and protection for many of Scotland's kings and queens.
Today the walls protect countless cultural treasures. Marvel at the nation's crown jewels, smell the gunpowder after the One O'Clock Gun fires, experience Scotland's martial heritage in the National War Museum and taste local produce in either the Queen Anne Tearoom or Redcoat Café - all within this magnificent fortress.
A guided tour is included in the admission price along with a children's quiz book. Exchanging your pre-paid ticket voucher at the visitor information desk will allow you to bypass the regular ticket office queue.
- All Year Round, Except December 25 & 26.
- 1 Apr - 30 Sept: 09:30 to 18:00.
- 1 Oct - 31 Mar: 09:30 to 17:00.
- Last entry 1 hour before closing.
Edinburgh Castle Address:
- Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG.
- Edinburgh Castle Attraction Map | View/Download.
- Audio Guides.
- Guide Books.
- Audio guides are available to rent on-site in the following languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Chinese. Rent costs are: Adult £3.50, Child £1.50 and Concession £2.50.
- Three gift shops on site.
- Redcoat Café and tea rooms.
Things To See And Do At Edinburgh Castle:
1) St Margaret’s Chapel:
Whether you take the Lang Stairs or the more gentle curving road, one of the first attractions you’ll encounter at Edinburgh Castle is St. Margaret’s Chapel. A small and unassuming stone-brick building, the average visitor could be forgiven for bypassing it in favour of the eye-catching Argyle Battery or the iconic One O’ Clock Gun. However, not only is St Margaret’s Chapel the oldest part of Edinburgh Castle, it’s the oldest free standing structure in the entire city.
Built in 1130 and dedicated to Saint Margaret of Scotland, it served as place of private worship for the kings and queens of Scotland up until the mid-16th century. Saint Margaret herself was actually an English princess forced to flee to Scotland during the Norman conquest of England. Venerated for her philanthropy and piety, she represented all of the best qualities that a pre-reformation Scottish leader could aspire to.
Restored to much of its former glory in 1993, modern visitors can access St Margaret’s Chapel and admire the quaint beauty of its little pews, miniature shrine and five stained-glass windows. Afterwards, be sure not to leave the castle until you’ve experienced all of the remaining attractions listed below.
2) The One O’clock Gun (and National War Memorial):
This unusual timepiece is aptly situated close to the castle’s Half Moon Battery (the distinct curve-walled section of Edinburgh Castle). The cannon is fired at 13:00 every week day. At the same time, a time ball is dropped at the Nelson Monument as part of a tradition that goes back to the days when ships checked their chronometers by training their telescopes on the castle.
Additionally, the north side of Crown Square plays host to the National War Memorial. The Memorial was built to commemorate Scottish lives lost in WWI. Decorations adorning the monument were effected by many well-known artists before it was consecrated in 1927.
3) The Royal Palace, Stone of Destiny, and Crown Jewels:
The Royal Palace acted as the main repository for the Crown Jewels and state documents for centuries. They were only removed in 1291 when Edward I sent the jewels and papers to London, and over 350 years later right before Oliver Cromwell captured Edinburgh Castle.
The Crown Jewels are comprised of a scepter (gifted by Pope Alexander VI to James IV in 1494), a sword (presented by Pope Julius II to James IV in 1507), a crown forged using Scottish-mined gold (with 94 brilliant pearls) and 40 jewels.
Edinburgh Castle also allows visitors to view the famed Stone of Destiny (otherwise referred to as the Stone of Scone). It was famously taken by Edward I and stowed beneath the English throne in London before being returned to Scotland in 1996.
The Great Hall, built in the 16th century, served as a meeting point for the Scottish parliament until 1640, after which it was converted into a military hospital and barracks. Restored during the 19th century, it now houses an impressive collection of armour and arms.
4) Prisoners of War Exhibition and Mons Meg Bombard:
French prisoners of war were interned right beneath the Great Hall during the Napoleonic wars. Their preserved living quarters now form a fascinating exhibition for visitors to Edinburgh Castle.
Although the castle boasts numerous martial artefacts, Mons Meg tends to attract the most attention. It was manufactured in 1449 in Mons, Flanders and was presented by the Duke of Burgundy to James II. At the time, it was considered cutting-edge technology. The cannon has seen a great deal of action – including but not limited to the 1460 siege of Roxburgh Castle.
5) The National War Museum:
To the west side of the castle’s Crown Square lies the Scottish military museum. Founded in 1933, the National War Museum of Scotland displays weapons, uniforms, and other memorabilia worn by various Scottish regiments. It also contains various paintings (such as the Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb).
Edinburgh Castle houses 2 unique regimental museums. The Royal Scots Museums informs visitors about the regiment since it was formed inside the castle in 1633 (including its 149 battle honors). The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum, on the other hand, portrays the regiment’s history from its founding by King Charles II (and includes the Eagle and Standard captured from the French Infantry during the charge of the Scots Greys in 1815 at Waterloo).
Touring Edinburgh Castle:
There are free guided tours of Edinburgh Castle. Audio guides are also available for on-site purchase and are offered in 8 languages. It takes visitors on a guided tour around the castle and tells its dramatic history and explains its architecture. It is available in Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, German, French and English.