Thursday, July 25, 2013

Visiting THE Castle in Edinburgh

Tickets to Edinburgh Castle are not cheap as this is one of the most touristy attractions to visit while in Edinburgh.  We were very strategic about planning our visit on a Monday instead of on a weekend day.  We did learn that on Saturday alone there were over 8,000 visitors to the castle!

Every day at 1:00 p.m. a gun is fired, and it is called the 1 o'clock gun for this reason.  After waiting in line for over an hour to enter the castle, we made it to the area 5 minutes before the shot was fired.  It was loud! We learned that the 'Time Gun' was established in 1861 as a time signal for ships in the Firth of Forth.  The gun could easily be heard by ships in Leith Harbor, 2 miles away. This allowed ships in port to accurately set their chronometers prior to sailing.  We live in Leith so that piece of information was fun for us to know.  Today when it is fired it is half as loud now as it was back in the day which is crazy for me to think about how loud it would have been back then.

We immediately joined a 30 minute tour that provided us with overall history and layout of the castle before we began exploring in depth.  Not only could we see areas of the castle as they once were, we were also able to peruse a couple of museums held within the walls.  These are the areas that we visited:  National War Museum of Scotland,  St. Margaret's Chapel, Mons Meg (a giant 6 ton cannon that shoots 385 pound stone balls), Royal Palace (before Holyrood was built), Great Hall, Queen Anne Building, Scottish National War Memorial, and more.  If you are interested in the history, then you can read and see more pictures HERE.   By the way, Bobby makes fun of me for including these links so hopefully someone out there is happy that I have made looking at the history more convenient.  ;)

We had a long, full day at the castle.  We were actually the last to leave.  Surprise, surprise...the Walkers are going to get their moneys worth out the day.  Haha!  No, it was more about Bobby being so intrigued since he is a history buff.  The museums were interesting with all of the war artifacts.  However, the rest of the family wasn't as amused in the museums.  Amelie enjoyed Craigmillar Castle much better as there was more freedom to climb and run.

Views of the city were great.
We took turns carrying Liam on our backs.
He fell asleep on mine and it about killed me. ;)  Thinking now that he is just too big for a pack.
Next step:  kid leash.  (just kidding....kind of....) 
Eating lunch in the Cafe.  Surprising, the Cafe had reasonable prices and a delicious hot meal. 
We even splurged on a scone, clotted cream, and jam to finish the meal.  You can see each kid awaiting to be fed another bite.
What you can't see is that I was in a similar pose. ;)
Everyday there is a different reenactment at the castle.  At the end of this soldier's tale, he shot his gun.
Because we were in the square and close in proximity, it was LOUD.
Liam continues to ask about "Shoot? Man? Gun?"
It made an impression!
This was the prop from a WWI plane that didn't yet have the right timing with the guns. Bullets were actually timed to shoot through the prop on each rotation.
Prisoner of War Area in the prison.
Aren't they cutie-pies?

Liam in Mons Meg.  Mons Meg is a cannon made in 1449.   
Inside St. Margaret's Chapel, which is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh.  It was constructed in the 12th century.  It is a very small chapel.  Weddings are still held in this chapel.  We actually saw a bride and groom drive up through the castle to be married here.  
An area of the castle retold the story of the Scottish Crown Jewels also called the Honours of Scotland.  There are 3 pieces that we were able to see on display:  crown, sceptre, and sword.   The picture above shows the finding of the Honours by Sir Walter Scott in 1818 after they had been hidden for over 100 years. 
Inside the Great Hall.  

While I agree with Amelie that this was not my favorite castle experience, we did however learn a lot about the Scottish military and Edinburgh's overall defense over the centuries.  We also enjoyed the good weather and being able to have the freedom to be out and about.

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