The Palace of Holyrood House

I’m really trying to finish my Edinburgh posts by the end of the year…so one today and one tomorrow! That won’t really be the end, but it’ll be the end of the physical events that took place in Edinburgh for me…during my studentship there…because I’ll definitely be back at some point.

So today we will talk about the palace in Edinburgh, Holyrood. Directly opposite of the castle, Holyrood marks the end of the Royal Mile (which is a Scots mile, remember, longer than a measly English/American mile).

This is the official residence of the Queen when she comes to Edinburgh. So once again, because it is a residence where someone actually lives (sort of), I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside.

So I’ll just give you some facts about Holyrood that I thought were cool.

  1. The palace was only half of what it is now when Mary Queen of Scots lived there. It is here that much of the chaos of her first and second husbands took place, and in her apartments, you can see artists’ depictions of her husband Lord Darnley murdering her friend and “lover” David Rizzio out of jealousy basically. To be honest, I just pity Mary Queen of Scots, because men were always treating her like a pawn to get power. So the part of the palace that was her apartments was my favorite.
  2. My other favorite parts were the throne and assembly rooms, which were all updated by Queen Victoria (whom I love, if you remember). She thought that the palace was dreary and sad, so she filled it with beautiful art and tapestries.
  3. The palace was turned into the palace it is today by Victoria’s predecessors, the Kings George. This was a big deal for the Scots as prior to the Hanover reign, the castle had been largely abandoned after James the VI of Scotland became James I of England. Monarchs returning to Scotland gave some life back to Edinburgh.
  4. Bonnie Prince Charlie hung out at Holyrood during the Jacobite uprisings. Because of the turmoil of these times, much of the artwork in the palace was destroyed by English soldiers. It’s now all been restored, and there is a long ceremonial room filled with centuries-old portraits
  5. In this ceremonial room, the Queen today greets guests and awards honors to Scottish citizens, including Sir Sean Connery when he was knighted.
  6. Holyrood is also the headquarters (so to speak) of the Order of the Thistle, of which the Queen is the head. On display inside the palace is the official robing of the order, seen here worn by the Queen herself and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Now outside the palace there are some beautiful things.

First, this fountain.

Here are some close-ups on those sculptures:

And one of my other most favorite things in the world…ruins.

This is the Holyrood Abbey, built in 1128. The name Holyrood comes from a vision of a piece of the actual cross, the “holy rood”, as seen by David I, who commissioned the building. It served as a birth and marriage place of several Scottish monarchs over the next few centuries, including parliament for Robert the Bruce. It wasn’t until after 1500 that the palace began to be built next door.

Like everything in the entire country of Scotland, Holyrood is full of beauty and history. So once again, I’m going to highly recommend a visit on your next trip to Edinburgh. I’ll highly recommend a visit on my next trip to Edinburgh, too. This place is amazing.


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