Top Historic Sights in Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Explore the historic highlights of Edinburgh

St Giles' Cathedral

A parish church was established in Edinburgh as early as 854. This first church, a modest affair, was probably in use for several centuries before a new one was founded in the 1120s. The 12th-century church was part of an effort of the Scottish royal family, especially David I (1124-1153), to spread Catholic worship throughout the Scottish lowlands. This church was probably quite small, Norman (Romanesque) in style, like ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a r ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars traces its origin to the south-west parish of Edinburgh, founded in 1598. In the wake of the Scottish Reformation, the grounds of the abandoned Friary were repurposed as a cemetery, in which the current church was constructed between 1602 and 1620. In 1638, National Covenant was signed in the Kirk. The church was damaged during the Protectorate, when it was used as barracks by troops under Oliver Cromwell. In 1 ...
Founded: 1602 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is one of the Top 10 UK visitor attractions, and in the Top 20 of the most visited museums and galleries in the world. The museum houses a spectacular array of over 20,000 fascinating artefacts. The National Museum incorporates the collections of the former National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, and the Royal Museum. As well as the national collections of Scottish archaeological finds ...
Founded: 1861 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

National Monument of Scotland

The National Monument of Scotland, on Calton Hill, is Scotland's national memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. It was intended, according to the inscription, to be 'A Memorial of the Past and Incentive to the Future Heroism of the Men of Scotland'. The monument dominates the top of Calton Hill, just to the east of Princes Street. It was designed during 1823-6 by Charles ...
Founded: 1823 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

St Cuthbert's Church

The Parish Church of St Cuthbert was probably founded in the 7th century and it once covered an extensive parish around the burgh of Edinburgh. The church"s current building was designed by Hippolyte Blanc and completed in 1894. St Cuthbert"s is situated within a large churchyard that bounds Princes Street Gardens and Lothian Road. A church was probably founded on this site during or shortly after the life of C ...
Founded: 1894 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Holyrood Palace

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining. Queen Elizabeth spends ...
Founded: 1671-1678 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Holyrood Abbey Ruins

Holyrood Abbey was founded in 1128 by King David I. The original abbey church of Holyrood was largely reconstructed between 1195 and 1230. The completed building consisted of a six-bay aisled choir, three-bay transepts with a central tower above, and an eight-bay aisled nave with twin towers at its west front. During the 15th century, the abbey guesthouse was developed into a royal residence, and after the Scottish Reform ...
Founded: 1128 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh New Town

Inspired by the lofty ideals of the Scottish Enlightenment, the neat and ordered grid of the Edinburgh New Town provides an elegant contrast to the labyrinthine design of the Old Town. Its broad streets boast spectacular neoclassical and Georgian architecture, with a wealth of beautiful buildings perfectly preserved since their construction in the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors are treated to a glimpse of how the city ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

St Mary's Cathedral

St Mary"s Cathedral was built in the late 19th century in the West End of Edinburgh"s New Town. The cathedral is the see of the Bishop of Edinburgh. Designed in a Gothic style by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the cathedral is now protected as a category A listed building and part of the Old Town and New Town of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. Reaching 90 metres, its spire makes the building the highest in the Edinbur ...
Founded: 1874 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a scientific centre for the study of plants, their diversity and conservation, as well as a popular tourist attraction. Originally founded in 1670 as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants, today it occupies four sites across Scotland — Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore — each with its own specialist collection. The RBGE's living collection consists of more than 13,302 ...
Founded: 1670/1820 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore. The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascina ...
Founded: c. 1375-1425 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Duddingston Church

Duddingston Kirk is a Parish Church, located adjacent to Holyrood Park. The church was built in or around 1124 by Dodin, a Norman knight, on land granted to Kelso Abbey by King David I of Scotland. As originally built, the church consisted of the chancel, nave and square tower. The traditional pattern of an east-west axis was adopted. The original entrance on the south wall includes a particularly fine example of Scoto-No ...
Founded: c. 1124 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Lauriston Castle

Lauriston Castle is a 16th-century tower house with 19th-century extensions overlooking the Firth of Forth. The castle stood on this site in medieval times but was almost totally destroyed in the raids on Edinburgh in 1544 by the earl of Hertford. A tower house was re-built around 1590 by Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston, father of John Napier, for his younger son, also named Archibald. Later, it was the home of John L ...
Founded: c. 1590 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Cramond Kirk

The origins of Cramond Kirk date back to the building here of an extensive Roman Fort. By about 600 AD a building on the site of part of the Roman Fort was being used for Christian worship. The earliest part of the church which survives today is the tower at its west end, which is thought to date back to the 1400s. Possibly of similar date is the Inglis family vault at the east end of the kirk, complete with a stone slab ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Cramond Roman Fort

The fort at Cramond was located on the River Almond at the point where it flows into the Forth. In Roman times, there was probably a natural harbour here. One suggested interpretation is that Cramond formed a chain of Lothian forts along with Carriden and Inveresk. The fort was established around 140 during the building of the Antonine Wall, and remained in use until around 170 when the Romans retreated south to Hadrian&q ...
Founded: 140 AD | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Corstorphine Old Parish Church

David I granted the chapel at Corstophine to Holyrood Abbey in 1128. By 1158, it had become a church, with altars to Saint Anne and the Holy Trinity. A burial chapel was added to the church in 1404 by Sir Adam Forrester, who died by 1405. The chapel was dedicated to John the Baptist. The chapel was erected into a collegiate church by his son Sir John Forrester. The foundation of the current church (on the inner eastmost ...
Founded: 1429 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Merchiston Tower

Merchiston Tower was probably built by Alexander Napier, the second Laird of Merchiston around 1454. It serves as the seat for Clan Napier. It is perhaps most notable for being the home of John Napier, the 8th Laird of Merchiston, inventor of logarithms who was born there in 1550. Merchiston was probably built as a country house, but its strategic position and the turbulent political situation required it to be heavily f ...
Founded: c. 1454 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Craigcrook Castle

The lands of Craigcrook were, in the 14th century, in the possession of the Graham family. In 1362 the lands were given to the chaplains of St. Giles" Cathedral. They passed through several more owners before 1542, when William Adamson, a merchant and burgess of Edinburgh, took possession. The Adamson family constructed, or reconstructed, Craigcrook Castle, and owned it until 1659. It is not known when the castle it ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Frösö Runestone

Frösöstenen is the northern-most raised runestone in the world and Jämtland's only runestone. It originally stood at the tip of ferry terminal on the sound between the island of Frösön and Östersund. The stone dates to between 1030 and 1050. It has now been relocated to the lawn in front of the local county seat due to the construction of a new bridge, between 1969 and 1971, on the original site.

Frösö runestone inscription means: Austmaðr, Guðfastr's son, had this stone raised and this bridge built and Christianized Jämtland. Ásbjörn built the bridge. Trjónn and Steinn carved these runes.