Scotland #1: Welcome to Edinburgh!
On our second day in Edinburgh, we headed east down the Royal Mile to explore the rest of Edinburgh’s famous street and climb Arthur’s Seat for its famous views of the city below.
First up was John Knox’s house, or I should say, what is allegedly John Knox’s house. There is some evidence that his house was actually located in Warriston Close. John Knox was a clergyman who played a major role in the Protestant Reformation in Scotland and is credited with founding the Presbyterian branch of Christianity.
We stopped for some pretty views of Calton Hill, including the Political Martyrs’ Monument, erected in honor of five reformers who were imprisoned for advocating for parliamentary reforms.
Next up was Scotland’s new parliament.
For centuries, Scotland had its own parliament located in Parliament House in the Old Town – a building that now houses the Supreme Courts of Scotland. With the Treaty of Union in 1707, Scotland and England were united under the banner of Great Britain, and the Parliament of Scotland ceased to exist. As the rumblings of independence grew in throughout the past couple of decades, Scots clamored for more political control. In 1978, the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Scotland Act of 1978, but the proposed assembly failed to garner the required percentage in a public referendum. Finally, in 1997, the Scottish public approved an elected parliament in Edinburgh.
The modern, new Parliament building was built in 2004 on the eastern end of the Royal Mile – also known as the Holyrood neighborhood in reference to the Holyrood Palace located across the street.
Today, Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland and served as the residence for the Sottish monarchy back in the day, including Mary, Queen of Scots. The palace is open to tours aside from the one week Queen Elizabeth spends at the palace at the beginning of every summer.
We meandered through Holyrood Park where we took way too many pictures and I attempted to be one of those people who takes yoga pictures in awesome locations around the world.
Finally, we began our hike up the mountain up towards Arthur’s seat. At some point, it became abundantly clear that we had taken the scenic route – and by that I mean we went completely out of our way. But the views were beautiful so no complaints here.
Here we are looking down on Parliament, with views of Calton Hill and Nelson Monument.
Below is a view of Calton Hill with the Nelson Monument and the National Monument of Scotland poking out. The Royal High School is located just beneath Calton Hill. Founded in 1128, the Royal High School is one of the oldest schools in the world.
As we climbed higher and turned westward, we could make out Edinburgh’s Old Town, Scott Monument, and Edinburgh Castle.
Finally, we got to the top of Arthur’s Seat. I was mildly obsessed with this bird.
We also had some pretty views of Holyrood Palace from above.
At the bottom of the trail, we came upon the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel. Little is known about the chapel, though it is thought to be associated with the Holyrood Abbey. Wikipedia dates the chapel to the 15th century, but I also saw reference to the 1300s. The chapel fell into disrepair after the Reformation in 1560.
Our version of the hike to Arthur’s Seat was certainly longer and probably more difficult than the correct path up, but we enjoyed the exercise and the fresh air – not to mention the views. We took the Radical Road past Salisbury Crags and then linked up with the path to Arthur’s Seat. Below is a map of Holyrood Park trails – something we probably should have googled before we started.