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Edinburgh Castle overlooks the old town of Edinburgh, Scotland from Castle Rock. Edinburgh is on the east coast of Scotland and is the capital city. There has been a castle on the rock since the 12th century, but archaeologists have dated inhabitants of the rock to the 2nd century AD.

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HISTORY OF EDINBURGH CASTLE

The first mention of a castle at the current site is in the 11th century AD, and has been the seat of Scottish royalty since. James V lived there in safety while his mother fought for the crown against Henry VIII (her brother), and then ruled from the castle until his death in 1542. His daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, lived here off and on until she was imprisoned and subsequently beheaded by her cousin, Elizabeth, Queen of England. The castle played a role in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745, in the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars.

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In the early 19th century, the castle gradually transitioned from a barracks and prison to a national monument. Now it sees millions of tourists each year and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is owned by the Scottish Government. The running and administrative duties are taken care of Historic Scotland, an executive branch of the government. The Army has control of the military museums and the two administrators share various duties.

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HOW TO GET TO EDINBURGH CASTLE

Edinburgh is on the eastern coast of Scotland. It is accessible by train from all major cities in the United Kingdom and by air from most European and North American cities.

Edinburgh Castle is hard to miss from the city of Edinburgh. It rises above the old town from the top of the Royal Mile. Because the volcanic rock that the castle sits on rises sharply from all sides, the only feasible entrance is on the east, along the cobblestone thoroughfare that is the Royal Mile.

Parking is available at the Edinburgh Castle Terrace car park; it costs £10 for 2-12 hours. Because Edinburgh is a small, compact city, it may be easier to walk from your accommodation or the train or bus station up to the Royal Mile.

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TOUR OPTIONS AT EDINBURGH CASTLE

The castle is open from 9:30am to 5pm, with the last entry at 4pm. It is NOT open every day; please check the website for details.

Entry costs are £16.50 for adults, and £9.90 for children. A guided tour of the castle is included in your admission price, but you are also welcome to walk around the grounds by yourself.

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WHAT TO SEE AT EDINBURGH CASTLE

A walk through the castle is not complete without a visit to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the cannon affectionately known as Mons Meg, St. Margaret’s Chapel, very likely the oldest building in the castle grounds, and the Royal Palace, where the Stone of Scone is kept.

Other top sights are the Queen Anne Building, which was built during the attempted invasion by the Jacobites in 1708, the Scottish National War Memorial, which occupies a converted barrack block on the site of the original medieval St. Mary’s Church.

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WHERE TO STAY IN EDINBURGH

Edinburgh has plenty of accommodation, from backpacker hostels to luxury hotels. Most accommodation is in the city itself, but if you are not careful you could end up staying quite a distance away, especially if you are on a bed and breakfast. With the exception of the luxurious Prestonfield House, the list below is accommodation within walking distance of the Royal Mile.

G&V Royal Mile Hotel, 1 George IV Bridge

Prestonfield House, Priestfield Road

Castle Rock Hostel, 15 Johnston Tce

Argyle Backpackers, 14 Argyle Pl

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