Holyrood Palace

The day was filled with visits to several places in and around Edinburgh. The places varied in historical significance from the Royal Yacht to the Palace of Holyrood to Calton Hill.

The Royal Yacht Britannia
City transport took us to the Port of Leith where we were able to see the Royal Yacht Britannia! She is one of the world's most famous ships. Launched at John Brown's Shipyard in Clydebank in 1953, the Royal Yacht served HM the Queen for forty-four years. Britannia carried The Queen and the Royal Family on 968 official voyages across the globe. On December 11 th 1997, Britannia was decommissioned at Portsmouth Naval Base in the presence of The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and fourteen senior members of The Royal Family.

Four months later, after intense competition from cities around the UK, the Government announced that Edinburgh was to become Britannia's new home. She is now owned by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust. We took some pictures from the inside of the Port of Leith's shopping centre but they really don't do Britannia justice as she really is an impressive ship.

We didn't have a fried Mars bar but it's no longer just a myth to me. They do exist! Here's proof!
Fried Mars Bars

Holyrood Palace
At the very end of the Royal Mile is The Palace of Holyrood. It dates from 1498 and was built by James IV. The Palace is located on the site of Holyrood Abbey, an Augustine monastery dating from 1128. In its heyday, I bet it was impressive. In 1768, the monastery was partially destroyed by a hurricane, leaving the ruin that exists today.

The Palace of Holyrood, today is the official Scottish recidence of Britian's Royal Family. The picture here shows the square infront of the main entrance to the Palace.

Much of the building that stands today is the result of a reconstruction in 1671 on the orders of Charles II. The palace had sustained some damage by the Earl of Hertford in 1544 during his sack of Edinburgh and then in 1650 some carelessness by Oliver Cromwell's troopers resulted in fire damage. We took a tour inside the Palace but weren't allowed to take pictures. So a colour guide book was in order. I recommend these books because the interior shots are excellent and there are no other people in the shots to block whatever you may be taking a picture of. I particulary liked touring the Palace because I had read so much about Mary, Queen of Scots and was able to walk in the same rooms that she once did. It was like stepping back in time. Most of the rooms were fully furnished and recreated the period perfectly.
Holyrood Courtyard

Holyrood Abbey
This is the entrance to Holyrood Abbey. It is said that it was built as an act of thanksgiving for the king's miraculous escape from the horns of a stag, while hunting near Edinburgh on Holy Cross Day. In the church was preserved, in a golden reliquary, the fragment of the true cross brought by David's mother, St Margaret, from Waltham Abbey and known thereafter as the Black Rood of Scotland. At the battle of Neville's Cross in 1345, this precious relic fell into the hands of the English and was placed in Durham Cathedral where it disappeared at the reformation. Many churches attracted pilgrims and donations by possessing some religious relic that was said to perform miracles.

The Abbey played a prominent role in the religious life of Scottish monarchs. James II was born there, married there and was buried there. He was killed in his thirtieth year when a cannon burst near him during a siege of Roxburgh Castle in 1460. James III and James IV were both married in Holyrood Abbey. James V was crowned there (1524) and buried in the abbey (1542). In 1565, Mary, Queen of Scots and Henry Darnley were married here. Charles I was crowned in the abbey in 1633. Notice the ground? Those slabs are all tombs of people that were buried in the abbey. They are now exposed to the elements and some of the engravings are hard to read but nonetheless fascinating.
Inside Holyrood Abbey

Holyrood Abbey
A short history of Mary, Queen of Scots : Married at 15 to the Dauphin of France; widowed at 19; returns to her native Scotland and ascends the Scottish throne on a great wave of popularity; marries her weak cousin, Lord Darnley. Her Italian secretary, David Rizzio, is dragged from her presence and stabbed to death. Darnley is murdered in a mysterious explosion and the Queen is suspected of being implicated. Within weeks she marries the Earl of Bothwell. Mary, a devout Roman Catholic, finds her throne assailed by the hurricane of the Protestant Reformation, which has the formidable John Knox at its head. She is humiliated by the mob in the streets of Edinburgh, is imprisoned, persuaded to abdicate, escapes in disguise, is defeated in battle, and flees to England. There she throws herself on the mercy of the English Queen, Elizabeth; is under house arrest for the next 19 years; is then accused of plotting against the English throne, and is beheaded. She was still only 44.

Stepping out of the Abbey and walking around the side takes us to the back of the Palace. In the background is Arthur's Seat. What exactly is Arthur's Seat? Well, it's the remains of a volcano that erupted under water during the Carboniferous period. Arthur's Seat is located within Holyrood Park in the centre of Edinburgh. Although only 250m (823 feet) in height, Arthur's Seat is an impressive landmark, that dominates the city. Known also as the Lion's Head, it is the highest of a series of peaks which look like a crouched lion.

Arthur's Seat

Calton Hill
From the centre of Edinburgh, you can see Calton Hill. Rising to 108m (355 feet) to the east end of Princes Street, Calton Hill is not the highest of the city's hills, yet it has views to Leith, the Firth of Forth and Fife to the north and Holyrood Park to the south. Buildings and monuments include the Nelson Monument (1816), built in the shape of a telescope; the unfinished National Monument (1822), modelled on the Parthenon; the City Observatory, comprising Observatory House (1776), the Old Observatory (1818) and the City Dome (1895) and monuments to philosopher Dugald Stewart (1753 - 1828) and mathematician John Playfair (1748 - 1819), both designed by William Playfair (1789 - 1857). The Nelson Monument has an interesting function: : The timeball at the top is synchronised with the One O'Clock Gun. At 12:55 pm the large white ball is hoisted up to the cross-trees and on the stroke of one o'clock falls back again.

Travel Diary II

Holyrood Gardens

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Travel Diary I
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