Edinburgh, despite being the capital, is Scotland’s second largest city behind Glasgow. It is home to the Royal College of Surgeons and Royal College of Physicians, both institutions held in the highest of regard by the medical world. It also has a reputation of one of Europe’s tourist mainstays and the second most frequented travel destination in the United Kingdom, behind London. This is for good reason, as the city is bursting with fascinating places of interest just waiting to be visited.
The most popular tourist attraction in Edinburgh is without a doubt Edinburgh Castle, which in itself contains numerous other attractions. Flanked by bronze statues of Scottish hero William Wallace, the daunting castle provides visitors with a superb view of the city. Inside the castle lie several exhibits that rarely fail to impress onlookers, such as the Crown Square Scottish National War Memorial, which was erected in honor of the brave individuals who died in World War I. The names of the 150,000 fallen Scotsmen are enshrined on a silver roll of honor, including even the animals that worked alongside the soldiers. To boot, the Castle also plays host to the Royal Palace, where various historical, royal and papal events took place. There is also St. Margaret’s Chapel, which was built around 1090 and is probably Edinburgh’s oldest building. Remnants of the war can also be observed throughout the Castle, such as the National War Museum, Mons Meg Cannon and French Prisons.
Along with Edinburgh Castle, a visit to Edinburgh is not complete without at least a view of St. Giles Cathedral, named after the patron saint of the city. In addition to being a major crowd puller, the building also serves as the principal church of Edinburgh. Visitors to the cathedral all whisked away on guided tours that showcase the beautiful stained glass windows done by William Morris. The site also contains memorials to the dead of World War I, along with the impressive tomb of the Marquis of Argyll who was killed for treason. Guests are also treated to a view of the Thistle Chapel. This “Chapel of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle” boasts spectacular oak carvings, emblems and seals reminiscent of the modern Gothic style.
Also not to be missed in Edinburgh is the breathtaking view afforded by Arthur’s Seat. Named after Arthur of Strathclyde, this volcanic outcrop is the highest point in Holyrood Park. A fairly easy 40 minute ascent to the summit will reward sightseers with an incredible view that gives way to the city of Edinburgh and the magnificent skyline, most notably during sunset. There are also plenty of rock and geological elements to be scrutinized along the trail to the top, a perfect addition for aficionados out there.
Travelers will also find that there always seems to be a festival underway in the pulsating city. The notable ones are the Hogmanay during New Year and the International Festival in August. There are also many others like the Book Festival and Film Festival, which should not be left out.