Steeped in history and grandeur, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly known as Holyrood Palace, is a must-visit Edinburgh tourist attraction. This magnificent edifice, located at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland, is the official Scottish Monarchy Residence. The palace is a testament to Scotland’s rich history and its enduring connection with the monarchy. It offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of past Scottish monarchs and the current royal family. The palace’s stunning architecture, historical significance, and the adjacent Holyrood Abbey make it a must-see for anyone visiting Edinburgh.
History of the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse has a long and fascinating history. It was originally founded as a monastery in 1128 by King David I of Scotland. Over the centuries, it evolved into a grand palace, serving as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 15th century. The palace has witnessed many significant events in Scottish history, including the turbulent reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived here between 1561 and 1567. Today, it is the official Royal Residence in Edinburgh, used by Queen Elizabeth II for state ceremonies and official entertaining.
Attractions at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Visitors to the Palace of Holyroodhouse can explore a variety of attractions:
- The State Apartments: These grand rooms are still used by the Queen for state ceremonies. They are filled with beautiful tapestries, paintings, and other works of art.
- Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers: These rooms, where the tragic queen lived and witnessed the brutal murder of her secretary, are a poignant reminder of Scotland’s turbulent past.
- The Great Gallery: This is the largest room in the palace, adorned with portraits of Scottish kings, both real and legendary.
- Holyrood Abbey: Adjacent to the palace, the ruins of this 12th-century abbey are a hauntingly beautiful sight.
- The Palace Gardens: Covering ten acres, these beautifully maintained gardens offer stunning views of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s ancient volcano.
Visiting the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is open to the public throughout the year, except for certain days when it is in use by the Queen. Tickets are required for admission, with discounts available for children, seniors, and families. An audio guide is included in the ticket price, providing fascinating insights into the palace’s history and its many treasures.
Tips for Tourists
Here are some tips for tourists planning to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse:
- Plan your visit: The palace can be busy, especially during the summer months. It’s best to arrive early or late in the day to avoid the crowds.
- Take your time: There’s a lot to see at the palace, so allow at least two to three hours for your visit.
- Don’t miss the Abbey: The ruins of Holyrood Abbey are a highlight of any visit to the palace. Be sure to take some time to explore this historic site.
- Check the calendar: The palace is a working royal residence, so it’s closed to the public on certain days. Be sure to check the official website before your visit.
Whether you’re a history buff, a fan of the royal family, or simply looking for a memorable Edinburgh tourist attraction, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a must-visit. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful gardens make it a highlight of any trip to Scotland’s capital.