The Palace of Holyrood - the King's official residence in Edinburgh
Today we visited the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is in the centre of Edinburgh. It is a true palace in that it is the official residence of the British Monarch, when in Edinburgh.
Its quite a nice place to visit, consisting of the Palace, the gardens around it and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. It contains a lot of history in respect of the Scottish Royal family, which then became the British Royal family via James the 6th of Scotland (and first of England) back in 1603.
The stunning fountain above sits out front. The workmanship on the carvings are quite impressive. When I saw it, it really reminded me of a fountain that sits in the courtyard in Linlinthgow Palace (which is around 20 miles outside of Edinburgh), and true enough, wikipedia says:
The sandstone fountain in the centre of the Forecourt was erected in 1858 by Robert Matheson and is based on the design of the 16th-century fountain at Linlithgow Palace.
The entrance fee allows you to tour the internals of the palace as well, which are pretty darn impressive, however, you are not allowed to take photos in them, which is a pity. Above is the centre courtyard which you are greeted with when you first walk into the palace. The main palace we see today dates from the late 1600s and must have been fairly well advanced for its time, because looking at the architecture I would have put it at about 100 years later than that.
The grounds are quite nice and have the usual memorials, like the one above to Edward V, who was the King after Queen Victoria died in 1901.
The tower above that sits on one corner is actually the oldest part of the palace, dating from sometime in the 1500s. The palace has been a key feature in the Scottish royal family, and this tower in particular has some pretty gruesome history. It was in this tower that Mary Queen of Scots was staying, when her husband, Lord Darnley and his henchmen, broke into her private quarters and brutally murdered her Italian assistant Rissio. They stabbed him 56 times ! They wrongly thought he was having an affair with her !
The inside was quite nice to see. You can tour a lot of the state rooms, which are decorated as they were from hundreds of years before. And it was quite cool to tour through them, because they are the same rooms the King uses for hosting dignitaries, etc, when he is here in Edinburgh.
Attached to the back end of the Palace is Holyrood Abbey. It dates from much earlier, and is 900 years old. Its ruined now, but is beautiful too see.
It was once one of the largest and most important monasteries in Scotland and was built by King David the 1st of Scotland.
The carvings above the main entrance are quite impressive, although now very weathered - we do have a lot of wind and rain in Scotland, and it takes its toll on our old buildings !
The abbey was really nice to see, although we could only partially explore it as a lot of restoration work was in progress at one end. However, thats a good thing - that means it will be preserved for future generations.
The pic above shows how the new palace was abutted onto the Abbey when it was constructed - its a beautiful marriage of two distinct types of architecture.
The little outbuilding above is called Queen Mary's bath house, although there is no evidence that it ever had a bath inside it. Its a quite an interesting building and I just wonder if it played any part in influencing JK Rowling when she was dreaming up Hagrid's House in the Harry Potter books. She wrote those books in Edinburgh, and drew a lot of inspiration from many of places she would visit at the time, so it could be possible.
It certainly was nice to visit the palace. I have to say that the entrance fee was quite pricey, however, that then allows us to visit for a whole year, so we will make sure and go again in order to get our monies worth.
Right across the road from the Palace sits the Scottish Parliament building. Its actually quite beautiful, and the pic above does not do it justice. It was quite infamous for running massively over budget when it was being built - but it is an impressive building inside and out.
We took a walk through Holyrood Park while going to the Palace - it sits right outside the palace. They were just packing up from an event that had been held there, and these lovely pink flags, for a cancer charity, were still in place - I thought they looked really nice.
And there was also a nice pond load of swans that we passed in the park. The swans and the seagulls were going daft while some people were feeding them. You should have heard the noise the seagulls were making - they were squawking like their life depended on it !
Well we certainly enjoyed our visit to the Palace, and by the time we had walked through the park, enjoyed a cup of tea and some cake in the cafe, and then made it back to the car, it made for quite a nice sunday afternoon. Well worth the visit, especially if you like history !