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Glasgow Highlights Nextbiteoflife

Historic Holyrood Palace Of Royalty Edinburgh Scotland

Aug 5, 2019 @

historic Holyrood palace of royalty in Edinburgh
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A visit to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh was a given on our recent trip to Scotland. After years of hearing just how eclectic and cool Edinburgh is, I must admit l was a little bit afraid l wouldn’t like it given all the hype. Needless to say I was stunned by how much l enjoyed the city.

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Among the top fun things to do in Edinburgh is a visit to the official residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland. As expected, it is a ginormous space and l definitely recommend a trip to Holyrood Palace to not only discover royal history, but to check out the royal jewels.

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Historic Holyrood Palace Self Guided Tour Overview:

lady in fron of holyrood palace or palace of holyroodhouse
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In my comfy shoes and listening to the audio set provided with the Palace Holyrood Abbey tour

The Palace of Holyroodhouse (official name) has been home to the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, including Mary, Queen of Scots (someone you might have heard of 🙂 ). Queen Elizabeth II spends one week each year during the summer at Holyrood Palace and holds official and state functions there. If you intend on visiting Holyrood, I would advise you to get there early as there are long lines to buy tickets. In fact we tried to get in late afternoon and were turned off by that, so we returned early the next morning and it was way better.

king edward statue holyrood palace
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A statue dedicated to King Edward who was much beloved by the people.

Getting to Holyrood Palace was easy for us as we had purchased our hop on hop off tickets via GetYourGuide, (our go to tour company) so as to get a good overview of the city and this was one of the stops on the bus route. We just hopped off at the Holyrood Palace stop which was at the bottom of the world famous Royal Mile. After purchasing our tickets, we were given our headsets. The Palace of Holyrood tour is self-guided which suits me just fine because you have the luxury of going at your own pace and can linger if you desire.

 

holyrood palace courtyard
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The courtyard, the focus point from all the wings in the palace.

There is no photography allowed inside the Palace of Holyrood, but you can see some precious items here at the Royal Collection website.

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Holywood Palace History And Interesting Facts:

  • Built between 1671-1678 (the current reincarnation) in a quadrangle shape.
  • The gardens of Holyrood Palace measures over 10 acres. Queen Mary used to practice her archery and hunting (wild boars were brought in from France) there. There is also the Holyrood Park outside of the gates which covers over 650 acres of ground. You can hike all the way to the top for an amazing view of the city, and we saw a lot of people doing just that. It still hosts the Queen’s annual garden party every summer.
  • The ruins of Augustinian Holyrood Abbey was founded in 1128 on the orders of King David I of Scotland. Apparently, he had found himself in grave danger and near death having fallen off his horse, he prayed to God that if he was saved (after seeing a vision of the cross), he would build a church a thank you. Only 1 roofless nave remains, and it is stunning.
  • King James II was born at Holyrood Palace, crowned there, married there and was laid to rest there to boot.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1567) married both her husbands at the Palace of Holyrood. She witnessed the murder of her Italian private secretary David Rizzio in her royal apartment. Her second husband, Lord Darnley (a schmuck ) and his friends stabbed the man 56 times in the outer chamber. Her “apartment” was so tiny, you had to bend to get in and made me feel a bit claustrophobic :-). Not what l imagined for royalty, better fitting for a maid l would say.
  • In 1650, the East side of the palace was destroyed by a fire whilst occupied by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers. It was never determined if it was on purpose or not. After that incident, the east side was abandoned and the rest was used mainly as barracks.
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie (The Great Pretender who attempted to overthrow the government and return the British throne to the house of Stewart, his family name) held court at Holyrood Palace for 5 weeks during the uprising.
  • Hollywood Park and the Abbey was designated as a debtor’s sanctuary. Anyone owing debt could escape their debtors and prevent imprisonment by moving into the sanctuary. They were even allowed to leave on Sundays when it was forbidden to arrest people. Over 6500 debtors lived there, including aristocrats. That has never been repealed by the way, so if you owe money, you have someplace to go :-).
  • Central heating and electric lighting was installed in 1911 before a visit by King George V.
  • It became the official royal residence of the monarchy in the 1920’s. Dignitaries including Nelson Mandela, a Pope (forget which one), and Putin have been hosted here.
  • A naked ghost is supposed to roam the palace. I wonder how one can tell if a ghost is naked… things that make you go hmm.. :-).
holyrood abbey exterior remains
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Remains of the Holyrood Abbey. It’s amazing that it still stands with just one side.

 

 

side wall of Holyrood Abbey Edinburgh
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You can really just imagine how beautiful it must have been.


cloister of holyrood abbey #holyroodabbey #holyroodpalace #whattoseeinedinburgh #edinburgh #cloister
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If you’re a fan of Pillars of the Earth, you’ll know why l was excited to visit.

Other Royal Residence Tours you might like: Peles Castle and Drottingholm Palace

Entry fee to the Palace of Holyrood:

£14 ($19) for adults

£12.70 ($17) for seniors over 60 years and students

£8.10 ($11) for under 17 years

Free for children under 5 years of age

Add an extra £5 to visit the Queen’s Gallery in addition to the Holyrood Tour.

Holyrood Palace Opening Times:

9.:30AM – 4:30PM in Winter

9:30AM – 6PM in Summer

One thing to remember is that the last admission into the Palace is about 90 minutes before closing time so plan accordingly.

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holyrood palace gardens
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Holyroodhouse palace grounds and garden.

 

holyrood park grounds with mountains showing
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You can imagine the views from high up in the Holyrood Park

Should you visit Hollyrood Palace?

Most definitely if you’re a fan of history and art. There are amazing works by artists such as Canaletto and Rembrandt in addition to the some spectacular jewels. I always love getting a glimpse of how the affluent and royal people lived and live. The whole tour of Hollyrood Palace will take you about two to three hours and it’s definitely a nice way to spend a vacation day in Edinburgh.

My favourite places inside the palace of Holyrood were Mary’s chambers and the ruins of the Abbey, which even though there is little left, lets you imagine how beautiful it must have been with all its grand Goth looks complete. As a fan of history, I consider this palace a must-visit in Edinburgh.

I didn’t love the fact that photography is not allowed inside of the palace 🙂 , but l enjoyed the tour thoroughly and the speaker’s accent on the audio tour was easy to understand (that had been a fear of mine 🙂 ). Holyrood Palace and Abbey should be included in your list of things to see and do in Edinburgh, in addition to the Edinburgh Castle tour, or better yet, Stirling Castle tour, our preferred castle of the two.

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Have you been to Scotland, and if so, did you enjoy the visit? Would you consider visiting Holyrood House Edinburgh or are you one who wouldn’t consider visiting because you are forbidden from Instagram selfies on the inside?

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32 thoughts on “Historic Holyrood Palace Of Royalty Edinburgh Scotland”

  1. Was in Edinburgh after my daughter’s wedding in the Guthrie Castle in 2014. And, of course, we also saw the Holyrood Palace. But you gave me great info about this Scottish royal residence of the Queen. I was hoping though that you could tell me how it got its name and what it means since it sounds like Hollywood!

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    • Oh wow! That must have some wedding! How utterly romantic. Thanks for the comment. I didn’t think to explain that, I might amend it as soon as l’m able. The rood is the crucifix/cross in the church. I guess they wanted to be fancy and different from all the other “Holy Cross” named churches and places in the world 🙂 . The Hollyrood Abbey came first. Hollywoodland as it was originally known, was named by the wife of one of the pioneers of the film studios. If memory serves me right, it was the wife of the founder of Universal Studios.

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  2. I remember visiting Holyrood when I was in Edinburgh way back in 1980, and I loved it. I would go back in a moment.

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    • Nice that you have great memories. I would go back in a heartbeat as well. I was shocked at how much l liked Edinburgh. The cold though.. 🙂

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  3. Holyrood Palace looks and sounds like an amazing place to visit. I have aspirations to get to Edinburgh, so will definitely pin this post for future reference.

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    • Thanks for reading Doreen. I, myself would love to go back. The weekend was not enough 🙂 and l hope you get to visit it at some point.

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  4. It’s amazing to see that something built hundred of years ago still stands. The entire place looks beautiful and it somehow breathes history just by looking at it. However, reading about the things that happened there, including the facts about Mary, don’t make me jealous for not living during that time… 🙂

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    • Haha! I bet it would have been nice to live in those days, assuming you were one of royalty of course. If you’re just a regular person or one of the slaves that had to build those ginormous things, it wouldn’t have been fun at all. I always find it amazing that the things built hundreds and thousands of years still stand while the newer constructions are pretty much disposable :-(. What is up with that?

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  5. I have been to Edinburgh many times but have never visited this Palace. Your post has made me curious and I will definitely want to check it our next time I visit the Scottish family 🙂

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    • You definitely have to put it on the list Gilda. I am so regretting not visiting when my niece lived in Glasgow for 2 years for her job. I could have visited so many places but l just thought Scotland was boring. Silly me!

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  6. I too fell in love with Edinburgh and enjoyed visiting Holyrood Palace. Your photos brought back all the memories of the day I visited and reminded me of its fascinating history! Thank you for a great post!

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    • So glad you have fond memories of your visit. It is indeed beautiful and does have interesting history. I will be back to Edinburgh l hope. I had a fun time!

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  7. Looks beautiful Kemkem. Scotland is a place we’d like to visit, we both like palaces and castles and the countryside has some great hikes. Did you have a hard time understanding the locals? Sometimes I need subtitles when listening to the British (Lissette doesn’t seem to have problems but I sometimes just can’t seem to catch what they are saying…)
    Beautiful looking palace.

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    • I think you guys would enjoy it, especially after the cold of Canada. It would be a snap for you 🙂 . My God, I couldn’t believe how many people were hiking up that Holyrood Park, but l can just imagine the views up there once you do it. I did have a bit of hard time understanding them like you do. I had to translate for Fede most of the time..haha! It’s a whole new world..that’s why l said l was glad the accent on the headsets were in regular British English :-).

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      • We met a couple of Brits a couple of years ago in Budapest and after a few beers didn’t understand anything they were saying. I don’t know if it was me or them. Lissette was my translator. She says women are better at listening because men don’t practice it much. Then she said something else but I can’t remember…

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        • Haha! I bet it didn’t take too many beers for that to happen. It was probably a bit of both. I do agree with Lissette, women are better listeners. It happens all the time when l speak with Fede sometimes :-).

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  8. Wow Kemkem. What an impressive spot! Neat how electric lighting AND central heating were installed in 1911. That’s a long time ago. I cannot imagine too many dwellings boasted both way back in the day. Fabulous post. Well done!

    Ryan

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    • Thanks for reading Ryan! 🙂 . Yeah.. I can imagine they must have felt pretty good in 1911 in their fancy digs with heating and lighting. The ultimate “in your face” to the other palaces..haha! One of these days, I’m going to be bold and ask you to do a podcast interview with me for the Expat series :-).

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  9. I know what you mean about the disappointment and letdown that can accompany places that have a lot of hype attached to them. But … WOW! Holyroodhouse looks amazing and I would have loved to have seen photos of the inside of the palace. (Why do they do that?!) It’s hard for me to imagine belonging to a world-famous family with a history that reaches back centuries and actually owning/living in some of this ancient places. As usual, with my ‘lowbrow’ sense of humor, I’m cracking up imagining the naked ghost. I’ll bet you laughed too! Anita

    Reply
    • Yes, it certainly gave me a laugh at the image of a naked ghost! 🙂 It really was an amazing place. It sort of reminded me of the Villa d’Este with its grandness and looks. I’m not sure what the point is in preventing people from taking pictures other than for them to sell their various mementos from there. Sure..after paying your entry fee..not cool! You know what l always say “It’s good to be king”. Their lives now and then are just so luxurious..sigh.. 🙂

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    • Glad you got to revisit it virtually through this post. The Holyrood house is truly magnificent.

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  10. I’ve never heard of the Holyrood Palace and I’ve obviously missed a lot, Kemkem. This palace is truly charming and your pictures prove that. Thanks for introducing a new place which definitely deserves a place on my bucket list!

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    • Holyrood, as well as Edinburgh was a delightful surprise for me, and l’m glad it lived up to the hype. It really is a cool royal palace, unlike some l’ve seen in the past (Istanbul, I’m looking at you 🙂 ). I hope you get to visit and enjoy it at some point. The history is amazing.

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  11. Perfect timing! My friend and I are touring Scotland this Autumn. Shouldn’t be so many tourist late September, hopefully. You’re definitely speaking my language here, I love history. I’m pretty sure the Abby will be my favorite, it looks spectacular now, it must have been breathtaking. It’d be nice to be able to take photos inside the palace, but then it does allow you to enjoy where you’re at than focusing on a shot. Rule breaker’s tick me off tho and I do tell them “no photos dumb ass”. They know and they know what i said, regardless if they understand my language lol.

    Reply
    • Yeah..much better seeing the history come alive that reading about it in books. I was pretty impressed by the ruins of the abbey. Very impressed. Hahah! at your commenting on the rule breakers. I don’t know why people find it so hard to follow simple rules. You’re right, it forces you to enjoy the moment. I should start being vocal :-).

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  12. The Palace of Holyroodhouse looks like a neat place to visit. Love the architecture (especially set off by the blue skies).

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    • It certainly is. We lucked out with the weather..because you know..Scotland and all, so we were really happy. I think we had one bad day the whole time we were there.

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  13. Hi Kem, we were there last year when we were on a British Isles cruise. We took a full day excursion with a local company, and Edinburgh was one of our stops. The tour guide dropped us at the bottom of Miracle Mile to explore the sites on our own. We had about two hours total to walk up to the Castle. We peaked through the gates at Holyrood Palace and immediately added it to our list of places to return to. I saw people walking up the hill and was curious about that. Our driver said it was a park, but he did not connect it to the Palace. Thank you for that bit of information. Edinburgh is a fascinating city and we will return for a much longer visit.

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    • Edinburgh is indeed fascinating. Way better than l could have ever imagined, which surprised me no end. Glad you enjoyed your visit, no matter how short it was, and l’m also glad that it wetted your appetite for more. I hope we get a chance to revisit in the near future. I feel there was so much more to do and the food was also good, so..that would be a reason all by itself..haha!

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  14. Is that a fountain in front of the palace? It was a awesome place to visit and learn the history associated with it. Your write up and photos were great.

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    • Yes, but it was not on the whole time we were there. We really enjoyed our visit there too. Thanks for the compliment :-).

      Reply

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