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    Scotiana’s Top 10 in Edinburgh – Part 1

    1 – The Castle

    Edinburg Castle

    Edinburg Castle

    Here’s Edinburgh and its most famous postcard view ! You can’t miss it as soon as you arrive in town, wherever you happen to be. The old castle dominates the city skyline with its proud and massive figure standing up there, on its extinct volcano, ready to tell you its long and turbulent history. Indeed, the castle gave its name to Edinburgh (from the gaelic ‘Din Eidyn’ and ‘Burg’.)

    We love the superb panoramic views we get from the Esplanade when the weather is fine, St Margaret’s Chapel and its beautiful stained glass windows, Mons Meg, the huge gun, big enough to put your baby-boy into its mouth, as we saw a father doing it, the priceless, much coveted and mythical Honors of the Kingdom, and last but not least, the small soldiers’ dogs cemetery, with its moving stones. Scotiana’s advice : try to avoid the crowd !
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    2 – The Royal Mile

    The Royal Mile, Edinburg

    The Royal Mile, Edinburg


    Truly “royal “is this Mile not only because it refers to the “voie royale” which leads from the old Castle to Holyrood Palace but also because it’s so great to walk along the one mile of cobbled streets, lined with picturesque old houses, which makes it up from west to east : Castle Esplanade, Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand.

    Scotiana’s advice : take some time to climb up and down the numerous closes and courts which run on your left and right and feel the atmosphere, at night, if you’re not afraid to do so ! We did it !

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    3 – St Giles’ Cathedral on Parliament Square

    St-Giles' Cathedral on Parliament Square

    St-Giles' Cathedral on Parliament Square

    Parliament Square !  Listen carefully, history is bursting out of every corner. Look how impressive the big cathedral looks with its gothic style and strange tower bell and mind your steps when you cross the place for you may well trudge on a heart and on a grave. The heart is a beautiful paved mosaïc which marks the place where the Old Tolbooth stood a very long time ago. If you like historical novels, read Walter Scott’s famous novel The Heart of Midlothian and let your imagination be carried back in the olden times by the “Magician of the North”… The grave which you may well pass without seeing it happens to be that of the greatest religious reformer Scotland ever had and his frightful presence still haunts the dark cathedral where he used to preach crowds. You will be told many stories about the place while striding along the echoing nave… and before going out in bright daylight don’t forget to visit the stunning, intricately carved Thistle Chapel.  It’s our “coup de coeur”.
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    4 – Greyfriars’ Kirk and Kirkyard

    Greyfriars' Kirk and Kirkyard

    Greyfriars' Kirk and Kirkyard

    The very touching story of a faithful dog made Greyfriars’ Kirkyard one of the most popular places in Edinburgh. Here you’ll find an old kirk, surrounded by a gloomy churchyard where you can learn a lot of history just on reading what is inscribed on the stones. If you are not interested, open the old creaking gate all the same and try to find some native to tell you how, in this churchyard, Bobby mounted the guard for 14 years over his master’s grave. The first time I came here, it was with a heavy heart, because I did know the story and we had just lost our dear old dog, Ralph. Suddenly a ray of sunlight made the name of Bobby shine and a small bird landed on the monument. We had not much time and I promised Bobby I would return. The second time I came here, a drunk man, who must have just emerged from the nearby very picturesque and cheerful Bobby’s Bar, told me his weeping and stammering version of Bobby’s story. I’ll never forget it.

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    5 – Museum of Scotland

    Museum of Scotland - Edinburgh

    Museum of Scotland - Edinburgh

    If you are interested in Scotland history we strongly recommend this fascinating museum opened in 1998. You can’t miss the modern pink sandstone building standing in the heart of the Old Town, next to the Royal Museum with which it communicates. One of our main themes being the ancient civilization of Scotland we were particularly pleased with what we found there : beautifully carved pictish stones, daily life as well as ritual objects, golden jewellery, ancient musical instruments among which a very rare and beautiful harp, and in front of the showcases much detailed and very interesting information… but definitely Scotiana’s “coup de coeur” has been the elaborately worked walrus ivory and whales’ teeth ivory pieces of the so-called “Lewis Chesspieces”. They have been discovered in rather mysterious circumstances, in 1831, at Uig Bay on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

    (To be continued  => Scotiana’s Top 10 in Edinburgh – Part 2 )

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