on September 23, 2004
It is one of the biggest ironies of history that the High Church (which is known in Scotland as Kirk) should be known as St. Giles Cathedral. Because this was the place where John Knox directed the Scottish Reformation from, although it is true that the church has twice been a bishop's seat in the 17th century.
Architecturally this is a large Gothic building, dating back to the Middle Ages. The cathedral is constructed in the form of a large cross, dominated by a 15th-century tower with a dome and numerous Gothic spires, including an open one with eight flying buttresses. The tower and its decorations miraculously escaped renovation in the 19th century, the same that significantly altered the look of the High Church. What you should really look out for is the Thistle Chapel, built in the year 1911 and named just as the national flower of Scotland is. The most impressive sight is the rib-vaulting on the ceiling and the canopies covered with carvings of heraldic signs. The signs honor the knights who were, over the ages, granted one of the most prestigious titles of Scotland - that of the Knight of the Order of the Thistle. Another interesting detail, for which the Thistle Chapel is justly famous, is the little figure of a bag piping angel, which you can see at the entrance to the Chapel.
Among other famous sights of the St. Giles Cathedral is the intricately carved wooden pew in the Preston Aisle, which the British Sovereign uses when she is staying in Edinburgh at the Holyrood Palace.
Next to the Cathedral, you can find two other interesting sights: the Heart of Midlothian, which marks the place where Edinburgh City Jail once stood, and the fine, though rather traditionally designed, horseback statue of King Charles II.
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