on June 26, 2007
Holyroodhouse is still an official residence of the reigning British queen. It was the preferred palace of Scottish monarchs in Edinburgh because it is much more comfortable than Ediburgh Castle, which is better fortified and higher up on an imposing granite hill. In contrast, surrounded by green, Holyroodhouse is located just a stone's throw from the beautiful Arthur's Seat that one can climb, if so inclined. It is across the street from the very modern building that houses the Scottish parliament. It is beside the Abbey that was founded in homage to God in 1128 by a king who had a vision of a stag with a cross between his antlers. I wanted to visit Holyroodhouse because I have always been fascinated by Tudor history, and Mary, Queen of Scots certainly factors into Queen Elizabeth I's story. It was in Holyroodhouse that Mary set up residence after returning to her country from France. It was also here that this ill-fated queen saw her private secretary—an Italian musician—murdered under the gaze of her cousin and second husband who wished to have more power as king. From that point, Mary made many political mistakes that resulted in her fleeing to England for help. What she got from Elizabeth I was imprisonment and (eventually) execution. So what was my visit like? I had a very nice time walking through the rooms at Holyroodhouse with a tour wand that explained everything I was seeing in the royal apartments. I could understand why royals find this palace more intimate than some other, bigger palace homes in Britain. Yet Holyroodhouse is still quite grand. In addition to walking through Mary, Queen of Scots' private chambers, I found it interesting to see a portrait of the first king who wore tartan again upon a visit to Scotland after a ban on this traditional clothing had been in place for many decades because of the unsuccessful Jacobite rising and the crushing of Highlander power by the English. Though it was overcast and wet, I also liked wandering in the pretty garden by the abbey ruins. The whole thing made for a pleasant couple of hours. (You could go faster—an hour—if you don't linger.) Cost? My ticket was £9.50. Seniors are £8.50. Kids under 17 are £5.50. Under fives are free. Hours November-March, 9:30am-4:30pm.April-October, 9:30am-6pm.Other things to see You can get a "combo" ticket that allows you entry into The Queen's Gallery at Holyroodhouse. Exhibits change here but are all part of the Royal Collection.
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