Edinburgh Castle sits atop an extinct volcanic outcrop and dominates the city that has grown up around it. In its early years the castle was a royal residence but since the reign of James IV it has assumed an increasingly military role.
What: within the confines of edinburgh castle, there is much to see. It was the seat (and regular refuge) of scottish kings, and the historical apartments include the great hall, which now houses an interesting collection of weapons and armour.
In addition to the castle, there are museums (the united services museum and war memorial) and exhibitions housed within the wall. These include the ‘Honours of the Kingdom’ exhibition which includes the scottish crown jewels, stone of destinity and mons meg cannon.
The oldest building in all Edinburgh is also to be found within the Castle; St. Margaret's Chapel, a tiny Norman building, has been standing within the castle walls, intact for more than 900 years.
Before leaving edinburgh castle esplanade, go to the north-east corner and find a small iron wall-fountain. This is popularly known as the 'witches well', it commemorates the many hundreds of women found guilty of witchcraft and put to death at the stake on this spot.
Tickets: Open daily. Adults £8.50, concessions available (2004 prices)
Planning ahead: Every visitor - particularly those on a restricted itinerary - should visit the Castle, not only because of the historical interest of this remarkable fortress and former royal residence, but because it offers such splendid panoramic views of the city.
Edinburgh Castle is also the home of the One O'Clock Gun. This is fired every day except Sunday at precisely 1.00pm to provide everyone with an accurate check for their clocks and watches. It will certainly startle you if you are anywhere near the Castle at that moment!
Contact: Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG or telephone 0131 225 9846