Everything you need to know about Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle stands proudly atop Castle Rock, dominating the skyline of Scotland’s capital city. Steeped in heritage it offers endless fascinating tales and breathtaking architecture, making it a ‘must-visit’ for history enthusiasts, architecture aficionados, and curious travellers alike.

Let’s dive in and explore all you need to know about Edinburgh Castle – from its intriguing past to practical details like ticket prices and opening times.

Edinburgh Castle History

The history of Edinburgh Castle dates back over a millennium, with its origins rooted in the early medieval period. Originally a fortress built upon an extinct volcano it held a strategic vantage point that played a crucial role in defending Scotland’s capital city.

One of the castle’s earliest recorded mentions dates to the 12th century when King David I established it as a royal residence. Notable monarchs, including Mary, Queen of Scots, sought refuge within its walls, leaving their mark on its storied corridors.

Throughout the centuries it’s witnessed pivotal moments in Scotland’s history. During the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle endured sieges and battles as Scottish and English forces vied for control.

Over the last seven decades, the Castle has become home to the Royal Military Tattoo, a spectacular annual event that celebrates the skills and talents of military bands and cultural performers from around the globe.

The Tattoo takes place throughout August, alongside the world-famous Edinburgh Festival. It combines vibrant music with dance and storytelling, accompanied by the stoic silhouette of the Lone Piper set high on the Castle ramparts, sure to send shivers down your spine!

Edinburgh Castle Facts

Beyond its historical significance, this iconic fortress holds many cultural treasures and gems that continue to captivate visitors. Here are some interesting facts:

  • Location: Castle Rock in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Construction Material: Built predominantly with stone, it’s a mediaeval masterpiece
  • Key Features: Home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, and the legendary Mons Meg cannon
  • One o’clock gun: The firing of the gun dates back to 1861 and continues to this day.  It’s fired every day from the Argyle Battery, except on Sundays, Good Friday, and Christmas Day
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Recognized for its cultural and historical importance, Edinburgh Castle earned UNESCO World Heritage status in 1995.

Best Time to Visit Edinburgh Castle

The Castle is a great attraction to visit year-round, though during the height of summer, it can be crowded, and you can expect queues. Some would suggest the best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). During these times, you can enjoy milder weather, fewer crowds, and stunning views of the cityscape below.

If you happen to be visiting Edinburgh during December, don’t miss the Castle of Light show, where the fortress transforms into “A Kingdom of Colours”. With kaleidoscopic projections, interactive lighting, and mesmerizing displays, the lighting trail promises to be a magical start to the festive season!

Edinburgh Castle Ticket Prices

Tickets tend to sell out quickly, particularly during the summer. Secure your ticket online in advance. It’s useful to know that once online tickets are sold out, no additional tickets will be available at the castle.

Admission prices vary depending on factors such as age, concessionary status, and optional add-ons like guided tours, or an Afternoon Tea experience – yum!

For a full list of the pricing options, visit the official Edinburgh Castle Website.

Edinburgh Castle Opening Times

The castle welcomes visitors daily, with opening hours varying slightly by season. From April to September, it’s open from 9.30am to 6pm, with the last entry at 5pm. During autumn and winter, it closes at 5pm, with the last entry at 4pm.

Occasionally adverse weather may cause the castle to close at short notice, unlikely in the spring-summer months. However, it’s best to check the official website for opening times before planning your visit.

Exploring Edinburgh Castle

As you approach the castle from the esplanade, take a moment to enjoy the incredible vistas that sweep across the city and beyond in all directions. On clear days, the views across the Firth of Forth towards the Kingdom of Fife are impressive.

A visit to Edinburgh Castle is like stepping into a time capsule, where each corner reveals a chapter of Scotland’s fascinating history and rich heritage. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Royal Palace: Traverse the opulent chambers once inhabited by Scottish monarchs, including the Crown Room, where the Honours of Scotland (Crown Jewels) gleam with regal splendour
  • Great Hall: Adorned with intricate tapestries and heraldic symbols, it’s easy to imagine the medieval feasts and royal ceremonies that took place here
  • St. Margaret’s Chapel: Marvel at the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, built around 1130 by King David in honour of his mother
  • Military History:  Discover the military significance of Edinburgh Castle through its various exhibitions, showcasing weaponry, armour, and the castle’s role in conflicts throughout the ages
  • One O’Clock Gun: Witness this time-honoured tradition of the gun echoing across the cityscape. The gun once served as a time signal to ships on the Firth of Forth.

Edinburgh Castle stands as a timeless symbol and testament to Scotland’s enduring spirit and heritage. Whether you’re a history buff, a culture vulture or simply seeking panoramic views of the city, a visit to this iconic landmark promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Bonham is ideally situated for a castle visit. Find out more about our latest hotel special offers.

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