East of Edinburgh Castle, the historic castle esplanade becomes the street known as the Royal Mile, leading from the castle down through Old Town to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Mile, as it's called, is actually made up of one thoroughfare that bears, in consecutive sequence, different names—Castlehill, Lawnmarket, Parliament Square, High Street, and Canongate. The streets and passages winding into their tenements, or "lands," and crammed onto the ridge in back of the Mile really were Edinburgh until the 18th century saw expansions to the south and north. Everybody lived here, the richer folk on the lower floors of houses, with less well-to-do families on the middle floors—the higher up, the poorer.
Time and progress (of a sort) have swept away some of the narrow closes and tall tenements of the Old Town, but enough survive for you to be able to imagine the original profile of Scotland's capital. There are many guided tours of the area, or you can walk around on your own. The latter is often a better choice in summer when tourists pack the area and large guided groups have trouble making their way through the crowds.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Scottish Storytelling Centre
The stripped down, low-fi, traditional art of storytelling has had something of a resurgence in Britain over the last decade…Learn More >
Our Dynamic Earth
Using state-of-the-art technology, the 11 theme galleries at this interactive science gallery educate and entertain as they explore the wonders…Learn More >
The Real Mary King’s Close
Hidden beneath the City Chambers, this narrow, cobbled close, or lane, named after a former landowner, is said to be…Learn More >