Saturday, May 7, 2016

Scotland: Fit for a Queen

P(a)laces we've been to:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse
*Disclaimer - Both of the castles had very strict no camera policies, so please check out our links to the attractions' websites on our Links to Other Sites Tab.

Our first day in Edinburgh was an incredible journey to the past as we began our sight seeing with the two castles that bookend the Royal Mile. First, we walked up the Mile passing Greyfriars' Bobby. John Gray, Bobby's owner and a Edinburgh City Policeman, passed away and was buried in Greyfriars' Kirkyard. Bobby was known to have spent the rest of his life at his master's side in the graveyard.

Group picture in front of the popular dog statue commemorating the faithful dog named Bobby.

We also posed with a bagpipe player!

And finally we arrived at Edinburgh Castle!

A windy group pic
Edinburgh Castle

Liz, Corissa, Erika, and Emily O look at the view of Edinburgh

Scottish War Memorial

Facts about Edinburgh Castle:
  • Edinburgh Castle was built on top of volcanic rock, formed from magma inside of a volcano 350 million years ago. 
  • Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son, James XI, in the palace
  • The St. Margaret Chapel is the oldest building in Edinburgh
  • The crowned jewels of Scotland were stolen, buried, uncovered, stolen, and returned to them many times throughout the history of their monarchy
Following our visit to Edinburgh Castle, we took the Edinburgh Hop-on Hop-off to Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Group picture in front of the palace

Holyrood is now used by the Royal Family for many political meetings and celebrations. Some such events include Queen Elizabeth's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and her annual garden parties that celebrate people who have contributed to humanitarian causes.

The most history intensive part of the attraction were Mary Queen of Scots living quarters, in which her husband and his men brutally murdered her advisor, David Rizzio. The audio guides provided by the institution walked the patron through many items that belonged to Mary and her husband Darnley. It was unbelievable to see that we have so many physical pieces of evidence for people who lived 500 years before us. To walk through the footsteps of people who we've only known as legends was an indescribable feeling.

One of the most interesting parts of the grounds was the Garden Tour. John, our wonderful tour guide gave us insight into how the grounds looked and were kept during the times of Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, and Elizabeth II.

Interesting facts about the gardens:

  • The wall that once separated Holyrood from Holyrood Park was covered with soil and grass to disguise it from the landscape to fulfill Queen Victoria's wishes
Kaurin listens to John describe how Queen Victoria liked to see infinite space
 and did not like to feel boxed in.

  • Queen Victoria was given The Fiddler (pictured below) which she despised and only put on display when the artist came to visit. Queen Elizabeth has an affinity for it and had it brought to England to have its face restored, but when the statue was returned to Scotland, the nose broke off again.

Professor Wolfe, Hannah, Liz, and Kaurin look at the ruins of the Abbey over what used to be the crypt.

Allie, Liz, Hannah, Amelia, and Kaurin pose with our tour guide, John


Katelyn's favorite moments of today included walking through these stunning castles and getting to see the evasive crown jewels. She loves learning about this part of her heritage.

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