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Explore Edinburgh Castle | Highlights, Visitor’s Guide & More

Perched atop an extinct volcanic hill, Edinburgh Castle stands as an iconic symbol of Scotland's rich history and architectural grandeur. Offering beautiful panoramic views of the city, this historic fortress...

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4

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Deep within David's Tower lies a time capsule, placed during its construction in 1892. This hidden container holds newspapers, coins, and other artifacts, offering a fascinating glimpse into the late 19th century when the tower was built.

Since 1861, Edinburgh Castle has fired the One O'Clock Gun as a time signal for ships in the Firth of Forth. This daily tradition continues, and visitors can witness the firing, which is synchronized with the famous time ball descent atop the Nelson Monument in Calton Hill.

Displayed in Crown Square, Mons Meg is a colossal medieval cannon gifted to King James II in 1457. This massive artillery piece could reportedly launch a 330-pound gunstone over two miles, making it a formidable symbol of military prowess.

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How To Buy Edinburgh Castle Tickets & Tours

Edinburgh Castle Guided Walking Tour with Fast-Track Entry
1 hr. 30 min.
Guided Tour
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Walking Tour of Royal Mile with Optional Edinburgh Castle Tickets
Free Cancellation
Mobile Ticket
1 hr. 30 min. - 2 hr. 15 min.
Guided Tour
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Edinburgh Harry Potter Walking Tour with Edinburgh Castle Entry
Free Cancellation
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Mobile Ticket
4 hr.
Guided Tour
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What is Edinburgh Castle?

Edinburgh Castle, perched majestically atop Castle Rock, is a historic fortress that has witnessed over a millennium of Scottish history. Its dramatic silhouette dominates the Edinburgh skyline, making it an iconic symbol of Scotland's capital city. Visitors to this remarkable stronghold can delve into its rich history, explore its well-preserved architecture, and bask in panoramic city views.

Quick Facts about Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Official Name: Edinburgh Castle
Location/Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, Scotland
Date of Construction: Estimated to have been established in the 11th century
Architectural Style: Predominantly medieval, with various architectural additions over the centuries
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Since 1995
Number of Visitors per Year: Approximately 2 million
Function: Historic fortress, military stronghold, and tourist attraction

Plan Your Visit to Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle Opening Hours

The opening hours of Edinburgh Castle vary depending on the time of year:

1st April -  30th September: Daily, 9:30 AM to 6 PM (last entry 5 PM)

1st October -  31st March: Daily, 9:30 AM to 5 PM (last entry 4 PM)

The castle is closed on December 25th and 26th.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle Location

Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, Scotland

Find On Map

Edinburgh Castle is centrally located within the city, offering convenient access to other attractions. The castle's position on Castle Rock grants it a commanding view of the surrounding area.

Nearest Bus Stop: Multiple bus routes serve the area around the castle.

What to See at Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

"Fight for the Castle" Exhibition

Experience the gripping narrative of Edinburgh Castle's tumultuous past at this immersive exhibition located in the Argyle Tower. Dynamic animations, projections, and a reconstructed medieval trebuchet bring the fortress's clashes for dominion between Scots and English to life. Marvel at artifacts unearthed within the castle grounds, offering tangible connections to the wars of independence that left an indelible mark on this iconic stronghold.

Edinburgh Castle

The Great Hall: A Medieval Masterpiece

Completed in 1511 under King James IV, the magnificent Great Hall boasts one of Britain's finest medieval wooden roofs, with colossal beams resting on intricately carved stones bearing thistle motifs. Hosting grand events for royalty, its splendor was short-lived for King James IV, who died at 1513's Battle of Flodden. Converted to a barracks and hospital by the army in the 17th century, this architectural marvel endures at Edinburgh Castle's heart.

Edinburgh Castle

The Royal Palace: Regal Elegance

The elegant Royal Palace offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of Scottish royalty who once called Edinburgh Castle home. Wander through lavish chambers adorned with exquisite tapestries and furnishings, each reflecting a unique facet of regal life. Marvel at the grandeur of the Crown Room, displaying the Honors of Scotland - the nation's crown jewels. With its rich history and sumptuous interiors, the palace invites you to journey through time and experience Scottish royal splendor.

Edinburgh Castle

The Stone of Destiny: A Symbol of Monarchy

An ancient relic central to Scottish monarchs' coronations, the Stone of Destiny's origins remain obscure. Seized in 1296 by England's King Edward I, this revered stone was dramatically reclaimed by students in 1950 after centuries in Westminster Abbey. Returned to Scotland in 1996, the enduring Stone of Destiny bears witness to the nation's storied past. View it in Edinburgh Castle's Royal Palace, still a vital emblem of Scottish identity.

Edinburgh Castle

St. Margaret's Chapel: A Timeless Sanctuary

Edinburgh Castle's oldest building, tiny St. Margaret's Chapel, has welcomed visitors for centuries. Built around 1130 by King David I to honour his mother, the charitable Queen Margaret, its original ornate arches now contrast with more recent stained glass. Maintained with flowers by St. Margaret’s Chapel Guild, this tranquil chapel hosts weddings and baptisms, remaining a timeless sanctuary.

Edinburgh Castle

Mons Meg: A Mighty Siege Gun

This formidable six-tonne siege cannon was gifted to King James II in 1457, capable of propelling gunstones over two miles. Named after its Belgian town of origin, Mons Meg saw action in sieges under James II and IV before retiring in the mid-1500s. After 75 years in England, it returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1829, where it rests today near St. Margaret’s Chapel, recalling a mighty medieval weapon integral to Scottish conquests.

Edinburgh Castle

The One o'Clock Gun: A Daily Tradition

Since 1861, the One o'Clock Gun has provided vital timekeeping for ships in the Firth of Forth, fired daily at 1 p.m. from Edinburgh Castle. It can surprise Princes Street visitors below by drawing crowds for its dramatic boom. Originally a 64-pounder, the cannon was replaced in 2001 with a 105mm field gun by the Redcoat Café, continuing the historic tradition with a new modern artillery piece.

Edinburgh Castle

The Half Moon Battery: A Historic Vista

Once crucial to Edinburgh Castle's defense, the Half Moon Battery now serves as an iconic vista, offering breathtaking panoramic views. Though originally armed with James IV's bronze "Seven Sisters" guns, it now features 18-pounder cannons from the Napoleonic era. Beneath lies a hidden gem: the battery was built atop the ruins of medieval David's Tower, which fell during the 16th-century Lang Siege. It is located on the castle's eastern side and provides a historic vantage point overlooking the iconic main entrance.

History of Edinburgh Castle In A Nutshell

Perched upon the towering Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle has stood as a formidable stronghold for over 900 years. From its strategic position overlooking the city, the castle has witnessed countless battles and sieges over the centuries. It was a royal residence for Scottish kings and queens, including Mary Queen of Scots. 

The castle was pivotal in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century as Robert the Bruce reclaimed it from English occupation. Edinburgh Castle remains a proud symbol of Scottish heritage and national identity despite numerous conflicts and invasions. Today, it is one of Scotland's most popular tourist attractions, housing the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, military museums, and more. The castle continues to captivate visitors with its rich history and dramatic setting.

Who Built Edinburgh Castle?

Edinburgh Castle, an imposing structure perched at 443 feet (135 meters) above sea level, was commissioned by King David I, the son of Saint Margaret of Scotland. Elements of the original construction from his era still endure, making it a historical testament to his reign.

Architecture & Design of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle's structural diversity reflects its rich history as a fortress and a royal residence. Massive ramparts and batteries exemplify military engineering to withstand sieges like the Lang Siege of 1571-73. The imposing Portcullis Gate has dominated the entrance since the 14th century.

Venture to the formidable Great Hall, lavishly adorned with arms and armor, befitting vast Renaissance gatherings. Eventually, the defense gave way to neoclassical luxury, as evidenced by the 18th-century New Barracks and Governors House in the outer fortifications. 

Recent archaeological discoveries have uncovered remains of medieval royal lodgings, bringing Edinburgh Castle's past to life.

Edinburgh Castle remains an iconic stronghold, a pivotal Scottish landmark and a key defensive site exemplifying centuries of architectural development and engineering feats.

Additional Information About Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1995, Edinburgh Castle was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing its significance in shaping Scottish history.

Frequently Asked Questions About Edinburgh Castle

What is Edinburgh Castle?

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress and iconic landmark in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. It has been pivotal in Scottish history and is now a popular tourist attraction.

Why is Edinburgh Castle famous?

Edinburgh Castle is famous for its rich history, stunning architecture, and panoramic city views. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, symbolizing Scotland's cultural heritage.

What can I do at Edinburgh Castle?

You can explore the Crown Jewels at Edinburgh Castle, visit historic buildings like the Great Hall and St. Margaret's Chapel, witness the One O'Clock Gun firing, and enjoy breathtaking views of Edinburgh.

How can I get tickets to Edinburgh Castle?

Tickets to Edinburgh Castle can be purchased online in advance or at the entrance. Buying online is recommended to skip the queues and secure your entry.

How much are Edinburgh Castle tickets?

Edinburgh Castle ticket prices range from £11.40 to £22.00 for individuals, with family tickets from £38.50 to £75.00. Adult tickets are £19.50 online or £22.00 at the gate, while concession tickets are £15.50 to £17.60. Children's tickets are £11.40 online and £13.20 walk-up.

Are there guided tours available at Edinburgh Castle?

Yes, guided tours are available at Edinburgh Castle. These tours provide detailed insights into the castle's history and can be booked on-site or in advance.

Who built Edinburgh Castle?

King David I commissioned the original construction of Edinburgh Castle in the 12th century.

When was Edinburgh Castle built?

Edinburgh Castle's construction dates back to at least the 12th century, with subsequent additions and renovations over the centuries.

Where is Edinburgh Castle located?

Edinburgh Castle is located at Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, Scotland, in the heart of Edinburgh.

How can I get to Edinburgh Castle?

Edinburgh Castle is centrally located; you can reach it by walking, taking public transportation, or driving. It's within easy reach of other attractions in the city.

What are the Edinburgh Castle timings?

Edinburgh Castle's opening hours vary depending on the season. It generally opens at 9:30 AM and closes at 5 PM or 6 PM.

What is the best time to visit Edinburgh Castle?

To avoid crowds, visiting Edinburgh Castle early in the morning or during the offseason is best. The morning light also adds to the charm of the experience.

What is there to see and do in Edinburgh Castle?

Visitors to Edinburgh Castle can explore the Crown Jewels, the Great Hall, St. Margaret's Chapel, and the Royal Palace. They can also witness the One O'Clock Gun firing and enjoy panoramic views of Edinburgh.

Is Edinburgh Castle wheelchair accessible?

Yes, Edinburgh Castle is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and facilities to accommodate visitors with mobility needs.

Are there dining options available at Edinburgh Castle?

Yes, Edinburgh Castle has limited dining options available on site, including hot food served daily from 11:30 AM -3:30 PM and grab-and-go items like sandwiches, snacks, and a cake counter. There are no full-service restaurants within the castle grounds, but plenty of dining options are available in Edinburgh's Old Town nearby.

Is photography allowed at Edinburgh Castle?

Photography is allowed for personal use, but some restrictions may apply. Tripods and commercial photography may require special permission.

Is there a dress code for visiting Edinburgh Castle?

No specific dress code exists, but visitors are encouraged to dress appropriately and comfortably. Note that the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable.

What other attractions are near Edinburgh Castle?

Nearby attractions include the Royal Mile, St. Giles' Cathedral, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and the historic Grassmarket area.

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