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Edinburgh



Relax and enjoy Scotland's splendour. The Scottish Highlands and Islands are Europe's last great wilderness so why not escape with Rabbie's personalised small group tours. Get off the beaten track and discover the secrets of Scotland.

Rabbie's promises to get you in touch with the people, places, history and legends of Scotland and deliver you a unique and memorable experience to last you a lifetime.

The Royal Mile

Edinburgh's Royal Mile stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the West and Holyrood Palace to the East.
The Royal Mile was used as the definition of a Scottish Mile. A Scottish Mile is approximately 200 metres longer than an imperial mile, which allows the Royal Mile so much more space to accommodate all of its treasures.
Below we present you with a list of Royal Mile attractions that await visitors to our beloved Edinburgh. Should you wish to stay close to this Royal Mile of historic interest you can't do better than stay in one of our Castle Apartments which are all either on the Royal Mile or within 250 metres of the Royal Mile.

City Chambers

The City Chambers look out impressively on one side across the city and the Prince's street gardens. The front entrance is on the Royal Mile. The chambers are built around a central piazza with a statue of Alexander the Great training his horse, Bucephalus, in the centre. Originally they were built for the use of the merchants of the city, however these business men preferred to use public houses and the Royal Mile, itself for doing business, so the chambers were bought by the Council in 1811.
The building was designed by John Adams who came from a family of architects and was built on the site of the Provost's mansion, where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night. Its construction also covered various closes or small streets which led from the steep sided Royal Mile down to Market Street below. Mary King's Close was one such Close which was recently opened to the public in 2003 and is a wonderfully kept example of 17th Century Edinburgh.

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The Tron Kirk

Currently the Tron Kirk is used as a visitor centre on the Royal Mile. It sits on the junction between the North Bridge and the Royal Mile and was built in 1636. The building was constructed just along the road from original high Kirk, now called St Giles Cathedral. In the 17th century Charles I attempted to create an Episcopal structure within the Scottish Church, and one of his methods was to make the High Kirk the seat of the Bishop of Edinburgh. The Tron was built as an act of defiance by the congregation.
This church got its name from a set of weighing scales which were kept here until the 18th century. The Church spire was burnt down in 1829, though the main structure of the church was left unharmed. Until 1952 it was a working church, but today it houses a visitor centre and an exhibition about Marlin's Wynd. The cobblestones and foundations of this Wynd and earlier Roman remains were found when the floor of the church was excavated. The buildings would have been divided into apartments to rent, and records show that lawyer, a surgeon, shoemaker and writer all lived at this address in 1653. The ground floor would have extended out into the street providing places for merchants to sell their wares on the Royal Mile.
The Tron was the traditional meeting place for Edinburgh citizens to greet the New Year, in the days when the Hogmanay celebrations did not attract people from around the world. Celebrations are centred around Prince's Street today, and fireworks are set off from the castle walls

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John Knox's House

This fascinating house juts out into the Royal Mile, and is a wonderful example of 15th century architecture. It was built by John Moss who was a goldsmith to Mary Queen of Scots. It is currently owned by the Church of Scotland and houses an exhibition devoted to John Knox, the religious reformer.
It is not certain that John Knox ever came to live in this house, but he is reputed to have come here to die. The John Knox House Museum is worth a visit, as is the Netherbow Centre which is next door on the Royal Mile.

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Dunbar's Close

This delightful little close just off of the Royal Mile has a garden which was donated by the city of Edinburgh Mushroom trust in 1978 and is laid out in the style of the 17th century.
The close has often had literary connections and is named after David Dunbar, an Edinburgh writer, who lived in the close for a time. Robert Burns is also known to have visited the close off of the Royal Mile in 1786.
Our Castle Apartments provide the perfect base for exploring Dunbar's Close and the many other individual closes off of the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh was not always the clean and beautiful city you see today. In previous centuries it was dank, filthy and cramped with many of the city's poorer residents packed into small rooms along the various closes which branch off of the Royal Mile. Much of the city's filth drained into the Nor' Loch which used to fill the area where the Prince's Street Gardens and Waverly station are today. The stinking loch helped give Edinbugh the name ‘Auld Reekie’ and produced poisonous fumes which drifted up the small closes causing hallucinations and black outs. As a result the city was city became known as ‘auld reekie’ until 1759 when the Loch was drained by the Victorians.
Such close living quarters provided the perfect breeding ground for diseases like the plague, and Edinburgh's closes are said to be haunted by countless ghosts. It is easy to find ghost tours on the Royal Mile which will give you the full story of Edinburgh's haunted past.

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Holyrood Palace

The Palace of Holyrood has played a long and important role in the history of Edinburgh. It sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile with the impressive Salisbury Crags as a backdrop. Founded as an Augustinian monastery in the 12th Century, it was rebuilt by James V of Scotland and later by Charles X to be the impressive baroque building it is today. Currently the Palace is the Queens residence when she is in Edinburgh, but much of the grounds are still open to visitors to wander through. You can swee hen the Queen is in residence as a flag flies from the battlements. Much of the Royal art collection can be viewed at Holyrood and the neighbouring Queens Gallery. Within the grounds stands Queen Mary's Bath House where she was said to bathe in white wine.
Much of the drama of Mary Queen of Scots life was played out at Holyrood Palace. She was married twice in the neighbouring Holyrood Abbey, and witnessed the brutal murder of her Secretary, David Rizzo, in 1566 by her jealous second Husband. For a time the Palace became the Head Quarters for Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 uprising

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The Museum of Childhood

This museum can be found next to Hyndfords Close at the Canongate end of the Royal Mile. It occupies two floors of an 18th century building and was the first museum of its kind when it opened in 1955. Admission is free and it is one of the noisier attractions you will visit in Edinburgh. It is obviously a big hit with children, but adults also love finding toys that they used to play with in the exhibitions featuring toys from all over the world.
The museum not only concentrates on toys but has slot machines, a 1930's classroom, puppets, books, teddy bears and tricycles. Different exhibitions show how children in Edinburgh were educated, the street games they used to play, while the museum also has a programme of temporary exhibitions and events.
The Museum on the Royal Mile, was founded in 1995 by Patrick Murray, a town councillor and contains many items from his personal collection. After the museum opened it received gifts for its exhibitions from around the world.

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Heart of Midlothian

Along the Royal Mile St Giles Cathedral is a destination for most visitors to Edinburgh and for football fans it is a must on the agenda. Edinburgh's two football teams, Hearts and Hibs, have a long history of rivalry and Heart's history is tied up with St Giles Cathedral. Outside the cathedral in Parliament Square is a heart shaped design in the cobbles. It is claimed that Hearts got its name because the team originally used this Square as their pitch. Some say that the players had to give up their pitch because the Cathedral was scared that their precious stained glass windows would be damaged. Parliament House was built in the Square in 1641 and this building was in use until the union with England in 1707. During the festival in August the square provides a perfect area for street performers to gather an audience.
We have various central apartments along the Royal Mile which provide the perfect base from which to explore Edinburgh's central attractions.

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Mary King's Close

This Close on the Royal Mile, was only recently reopened to the public. It is a fascinating place to find out what Edinburgh's streets used to be like and how it gained the nick name ‘Auld Reekie’. Today the main shopping street in Edinburgh is Prince's street, but originally Mary King’s Close was the place to shop. It was named after Mary King, a stall holder who and sold fine lace and ribbons.
The close on the Royal Mile, was not a nice clean shopping thoroughfare, but was instead filled with human waste, poured onto the street from the houses above. A holding pen for cattle destined for the slaughterhouse also existed on the close for some time. Many of the city's poorer residents were packed into small rooms above the close and such close living quarters provided the perfect breeding ground for diseases like the plague. Some say that the ghosts of the victims still walk the close, and you can hear all about them in the newly opened Mary King's Close guided tour.
The top two stories of the close were demolished when the City Chambers were built on top. It was believed that plague victims were shut up in their houses alive and buried when the construction began, in order to stop the flood of black rats which had infested the city. As building work only began 100 years after the plague had left Edinburgh this legend cannot possibly be true. Plague victims were used to construct some of the ceilings in the close however. Their bodies were burnt down to ash and then mixed with horse hair.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The festival had over 1,800 shows last year, it attracts performers and audiences from across the world and is famous for the weird, wacky and original. The Fringe Society has a shop at 180 the Highstreet on the Royal Mile, which is open all year round selling merchandise, but the main festival occurs throughout the month of August. During the festival the upper High Street section of the Royal Mile becomes pedestrianised and is taken over by performers advertising their shows in the most outlandish and enterprising ways.
Whether you like comedy, drama, ground breaking new theatre, music, or musicals there is award winning theatre to suit everyone. The Fringe Festival began in 1947 when 8 groups of performers turned up to the official Edinburgh Festival uninvited. The following year the "Fringe Festival" was born and grew from strength to strength, creating an official programme in 1954 and a box office on the Royal Mile in 1955. In the mid 1950's a corporate identity was attached to the Fringe Festival and it has grown every year since then.

Scotland Highlands tours
Relax and enjoy Scotland's splendour. The Scottish Highlands and Islands are Europe's last great wilderness so why not escape with Rabbie's personalised small group tours. Get off the beaten track and discover the secrets of Scotland.

Rabbie's promises to get you in touch with the people, places, history and legends of Scotland and deliver you a unique and memorable experience to last you a lifetime.

Rent a self catering in Edinburgh

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As a way of self-financing its free services and space to artists, ARTEUTILE works as a photography and tourist agency.
      

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