Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Don't Miss
Great Gallery
The self-guided audio tour leads you through a series of impressive royal apartments, end-
ing in the Great Gallery. The 89 portraits of Scottish kings (both real and legendary) were
commissioned by Charles II and supposedly record his unbroken lineage from Scota, the
Egyptian pharaoh's daughter who discovered the infant Moses in a reed basket on the
banks of the Nile.
Mary's Bedchamber
The highlight of the tour is the bedchamber of Mary, Queen of Scots, home to the unfortu-
nate Mary from 1561 to 1567 (it's connected to her husband's bedchamber by a secret
stairway). It was here that her jealous first husband, Lord Darnley, restrained the pregnant
queen while his henchmen murdered her secretary - and favourite - David Rizzio; a
plaque in the neighbouring room marks the spot where he bled to death.
Holyrood Abbey
Admission to the palace includes a guided tour of neighbouring Holyrood Abbey (April to
October only), founded by King David I in 1128. It was probably named after a fragment
of the True Cross, on which Christ was crucified (rood is an old Scots word for cross),
said to have been brought back from the Holy Land by his mother, St Margaret. Most of
the surviving ruins date from the 12th and 13th centuries; the royal burial vault holds the
remains of kings David II, James II and James V, and of Lord Darnley, husband of Mary,
Queen of Scots.
Top Tips
The palace is closed to the public when the royal family is visiting and during state functions
(usually in mid-May, and mid-June to early July); check the website for exact dates.
You can wander through the palace at your own speed; an audioguide is included in the price of
admission. Allow at least one to 1½ hours.
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