Edinburgh, Scotland

View from Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s top tourist destination. From the castle, you can see far out past Edinburgh’s orderly new town (built in the 1700s) to the Firth of Forth, which leads to the North Sea.

St. Margaret's Chapel - Edinburgh CastleThe castle is a man’s place, spare and stern, ringed by cannon and places for men to fight. Only one part is feminine—and it’s survived for 880 years. Tiny St. Margaret’s Chapel, with its simple white nave and curvy chancel, has seen many a Scottish bride marry her warrior—and still holds weddings today.

It sounds strange to say, but Edinburgh Castle is comforting. It reminds us that although rulers and generations come and go, some things abide. The human need to see a vista. The need for security, beauty and ritual. The need for continuity, especially when the world goes awry.

And here, too, lies the Stone of Destiny, Scotland’s biggest treasure. It sits in a hushed room, under glass, next to the Scottish jeweled crown. It is nothing much to look at, just plain sandstone with iron rings. Yet it was the royal coronation seat for Scottish monarchs of yore—and British crowns since.
Edinburgh Castle
For 700 years, it was kept at Westminster Abbey in London, until it finally came home in 1996 to Edinburgh Castle to stay.

Last month Edinburgh was named by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as the best tourist city in all of Britain—even surpassing London. That may be debatable, but there is no disputing the fact that Edinburgh has managed to segue from its tumultuous political history and medieval rat-filled streets to a modern, exuberant city.

(c) 2010, Detroit Free Press.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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