History was made in this port, just across the Firth of Forth from Rosyth, when the future Queen Margaret of Scotland arrived around 1071. Her devout religious attitude established "Queen's Ferry" as the place for pilgrims from abroad to alight on their way to St. Andrews—Scotland's ecclesiastical…
History was made in this port, just across the Firth of Forth from Rosyth, when the future Queen Margaret of Scotland arrived around 1071. Her devout religious attitude established "Queen's Ferry" as the place for pilgrims from abroad to alight on their way to St. Andrews—Scotland's ecclesiastical capital in the Middle Ages. Margaret's legacy continues less than a dozen miles away at Edinburgh Castle. A key attraction up on the castle's rock is St. Margaret's Chapel, believed to be the oldest section of the fortifications and the place where she worshipped.There's more to Scotland's capital than the Castle, though. Edinburgh proudly displays multiple exhibits on national and international scientific achievement at the National Museum of Scotland, as well as some fantastic works of visual art at the National Galleries of Scotland. South Queensferry's moorings are also within easy striking distance of Scotland's largest metropolis: the city of Glasgow. Transformed in many ways since the post–WWII days when it had a reputation for grime and crime, the city is among the most vibrant in the U.K.: It is Scotland's de-facto capital of modern culture, with the hippest DJs and most accomplished conceptual artists.
While Glasgow tends to live in the shadow of Edinburgh's international renown, this vibrant city should be on the itinerary of any tourist to Scotland. To name just a few of the draws to Scotland's largest city: lively pedestrian districts with street musicians, brilliant Victorian architecture, an intact pre–Renaissance Cathedral, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Trail, friendly natives and lots of great bars and restaurants. Glasgow may lack Edinburgh's magical setting, but it compensates with buzzing cosmopolitan life.
From the flagship building with classics (Velázquez to Botticelli), to the Portrait Gallery (don't miss Ken Currie's haunting Three Oncologists), to the Gallery of Modern Art, Scotland's collection of artwork proves itself distinct from and no less treasured than the British national art displayed in London. Pay special attention to the Scots' works, whether by pop-art pioneer Eduardo Paolozzi (born in Leith, 1924) or James Guthrie (especially his luminous painting In the Orchard). The Gallery Bus shuttles regularly between the three sites.
Scotland's Stuart monarchs spent more time here than in Edinburgh, and many scenes of high drama and intrigue played out at Stirling Castle. This is an A++ destination because so much of the sprawling site, from gardens to Great Hall to James V's 16th-century Renaissance palace, has been sensitively restored and opened to public access.
Linking Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse two kilometers to the east, the Royal Mile runs through the heart of the city's medieval Old Town. Off either side of the street—which goes by different names as it descends—ancient alleys and stairwells drop ever more precipitously. Despite some tourist-trap elements, this boulevard is a must-see for its well-preserved architectural heritage—St. Giles' Cathedral and John Knox House, in particular—as well as its plethora of shops, pubs and restaurants.
There is only one easy way up this crag in central Edinburgh, so it was the perfect location for the city's ancient fortifications and famous castle. Scholars say Castle Rock has been inhabited continually for more than 7,000 years and there has been a royal residence here for nearly a thousand years. Modern visitors can tour the Great Hall and several military history exhibits, and view the Stone of Destiny and the Scottish crown jewels.
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