It's hard to imagine that this quiet little burgh used to be a thriving, bustling sea-port exporting coal and salt (and much else), mainly to the Low Countries. The village was granted Royal Burgh status by James V1 in 1588 and a replica of the Mercat Cross stands outside the oldest house in the village(1577). The village declined at the end of the 17th century and became a bit of a ghost town until the National Trust purchased the Palace in 1932. This meant that nothing much in the way of new buildings were erected here. Since then the buildings have all been restored to their former glory and give a very real glimpse of the past.
Today the village is more than just a picture-postcard museum, it is a lively community where people go about their normal lives.
The historic Royal Burgh of Culross,(pronounced Kooros), is situated on the north side of the River Forth in West Fife. It is around 20 miles from Edinburgh and 30 miles from Glasgow.
Take the A90 from Edinburgh, cross the Forth Road Bridge and turn onto the A985. The burgh is well signposted from there.
From Glasgow, take the M80 and M876 to the Kincardine Bridge and follow the signs.
There are car parks at the east and west sides of the village on Low Causeway.
Culross is more of a day trip type of place but there is St. Mungo's B&B and the Dundonald Arms Hotel. Food and drink can also be had at the Dundonald and also at the Red Lion pub. There are also a couple of tea rooms. There are several footpaths and picnic areas along the waterfront.
A good place to start would be the National Trust Visitor Centre in the Town House or Tolbooth(1626). They have a video display telling the history of the town. Maps showing rights of way are available here and these will show the private areas where access is denied.
Beside the Town House is The Palace which is not a palace at all but a grand house built by the local laird, Sir George Bruce, a merchant and coal mine owner. The house was built between 1597 and 1611 and features original interiors with painted ceilings, wood paneling and furniture of the period. The restored garden has been developed with plants and vegetables that would have been in use in the 17th century.
This is a very good example of Scottish architecture from this period with it's crow stepped gables and pan-tiled roofs.
Back Causeway, a steep cobbled street leads up from the Town House to a small market place where you will find another building open to the public, the Study. This is a restored house which takes it's name from the room at the top of the tower.
Further on, up the steep hill, past many beautifully restored houses, is Culross Abbey(1215). The original choir and tower are now the site of the parish church and the views over the Forth from here are wonderful.
The other houses in the village are private residences but it is still very pleasant to walk around the narrow, cobbled street soaking up the historic architecture. The residents are well used to people gaping at their houses and are very friendly.
Culross is a good day trip from Edinburgh or Glasgow to a well restored typical 16-17th century Scottish burgh. It's not the place to go if you are looking for a wild time but if the weather is nice, this is a great place to wander around for a few hours and perhaps have a spot of lunch.
It doesn't feel all that commercialized, although there are quite a few souvenir shops.