Edinburgh: A City Steeped in History

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Photo taken by my sister Lucy from the park below Edinburgh Castle.

I’m already planning my next visit

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Sky view from our balcony the evening we arrived

I visited Edinburgh last weekend (my second time after many years) and while I can’t say I encountered anything supernatural on my trip through this Gothic town and the cobblestones of the Royal Mile, I had no trouble at all imagining this medieval city filled with ghosts. The architecture everywhere you look drops you back into the past, from the Georgian buildings of New Town to the medieval feel of Old Town where Edinburgh Castle rises tall. No wonder this city has been recognised as a World Heritage Site.

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Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh is a place to be explored at a leisurely pace. Stroll through the grand park below the castle, explore the centuries old headstones in the graveyard of St. Cuthbert’s Church at the foot of the castle, grab a whisky on the Royal Mile or opt for a walking tour. There are many to choose from. Just a few I came across included the Book Lovers Tour, Edinburgh Literary Tour and The Witchery Tour.

The castle sitting high  up on a rock in the middle of town is a jaw dropping sight. My first thought upon seeing this beautifully preserved fortress was “that must be where JK Rowling got her inspiration for Hogwarts.” Look at the photos below. Can’t you imagine Harry and his friends roaming the halls inside?

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I took a ghost tour on a freezing Saturday night. 27 people turned up despite the cold and we huddled together for warmth as our guide, Katie, led us from St. Giles’ Cathedral to the nearby Greyfriars cemetery. With the graveyard cloaked in darkness, it wasn’t difficult for her to create a spooky atmosphere as she took us through Edinburgh’s bloody and tragic past and warned us about the MacKenzie Poltergeist said to haunt one of the tombs in the locked part of the cemetery only tour guides from City of the Dead Tours had access to.

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Somehow, despite my best intentions, I ended up at the back of the group inside the tomb, fearfully wondering if the cold draft around my legs was ghostly in origin as Katie explained how poltergeists grow from fear. I linked my sisters’ arms on either side of me, only relaxing again as we left the tomb and the Covenanter’s Prison section of the cemetery behind. We went for a few pints in a local pub afterwards to ward off the chill from the late graveyard walk. One negative about the tour – Katie ruined the story of Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who sat for 14 years on his Master’s grave. I won’t go into it here, but grrr.

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Royal Mile. Top right = view from outside the castle. 

 

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Have you been to Edinburgh? Does the city appeal to you? What’s your favourite city in the world to visit?

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About Emma

Buffy fan, avid reader, writer.
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13 Responses to Edinburgh: A City Steeped in History

  1. Oh, I’m so jealous! I love those pictures! So you went on a ghost tour in Edinburgh, and I went on one in New Orleans. 🙂

    • Emma says:

      How was the ghost tour in New Orleans? What places did you take in? I can imagine the spookiness walking through some areas of the French Quarter.

      • Lots of houses and hotels. One restaurant that used to be a house, but the guy lost it as a gambling debt and killed himself. They say he haunts the restaurant, and they set a table for him every night. The most awful one was the story of Madame LaLaurie, who did horrendous things to her slaves. *shudders*

  2. Jen Naumann says:

    Wow, this looks like a fabulous trip! I cannot WAIT to visit there one day!

  3. sherry fundin says:

    Great post. I really enjoyed seeing Edinburgh. I have never been there, but yes, I can picture Harry and his friends. I don’t have a favorite city…yet. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip.

  4. Mae Clair says:

    I have never been to Edinburg, but your pictures are fabulous. And yes, I can definitely see that castle as inspiring Hogwarts! Truly awesome photos!

  5. I love Edinburgh! I’ve only been there once but it sure left an impression. I would love to go back some day. At one point, I even had a wistful idea of possibly doing a postgrad course there or something so I could spend more time investigating!

    I’m super jealous that you got to go on a ghost tour – I really wanted to but the friends I went with weren’t really into it. Plus, we had a limited budget so we had to pick and choose. However, I did go on this tour thing that was along the Royal Mile that showed you some of the old underground streets, it was fantastic. I did get a few Diagon Alley vibes. 🙂

    • Emma says:

      Becky, I actually applied for a Masters at the university there, but didn’t make it. 😦
      Would have been a really amazing city to spend a year or two in.

      I could see you enjoying one of the book tours. They even do a literary pub crawl, something to keep in mind next time you visit! Did you get to go down into the vaults? On my first visit, the ghost tour I opted for took us underground, very cool.
      Harry Potter had to be conceived in the city.

  6. Amanda says:

    Absolutely beautiful pictures, Emma! I can imagine this trip must’ve given you some great writing ideas. I think my favorite city in the world (that I’ve visited) is Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It’s beautiful there and the people were some of the nicest I’ve ever met.

  7. laurajc83 says:

    Emma your photos are fabulous! You really captured the feel of the city. I love the one on top that Lucy took, she should be a professional photographer, it’s really good! 🙂 Ye look as if ye had a great time. I’d say it was freezing but ye were well prepared with all your woollies!! 😀 It really looks like my kinda place, I will definitely have to go there. Love the castle! My favourite city to visit, that I have visited already!, would have to be Amsterdam or Bruges. I would love to visit Copenhagen and Vienna! 😀

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