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Holyrood Palace sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile, a walk entirely downhill from Edinburgh Castle. It's an actual working Royal residence - you can't go there during parts of the summer because the Queen is holding garden parties and the like. I tried at one point, but the police were out in full force because it was during the protests.

I sort of divide it up into two things in my head: the parts I really thought were boring, and the parts I really loved. The parts I really loved were amazing, but the admission price is very high. It does include an audio tour, but I really don't like them unless they're incredibly well done, and this one wasn't.

But, Holyrood. The parts I didn't like were really the parts you pay for - the chance to walk through an actual Royal Residence. I spent my time there wanting to ask questions of non-friendly looking staff, because the tour was very sparse on actual information. The bit where they tell you that a piper walks around the grand table three times when Elizabeth eats there is all well and good, but who were the people in the paintings? I ended up getting very bored of those types of rooms, whereas I was quite fascinated by the bedrooms of famous kings and queens of history.

I didn't get really interested, though, until I got upstairs, into Mary Queen of Scots' bedchamber. It's very claustrophobic, to me at least, and they very dramatically tell the tale of Queen Mary, pregnant with her only child, watching in horror as her trusted secretary is pulled out of the room and stabbed to death. They say that the bloodstain in the corner is left over from that murder. (Of course, one guide book says it's a hoax, the other says it's true. I don't care, it's interesting.)

Also in Holyrood are some of the famous paintings that you can see if you study a lot of British History. If I recall correctly (it was some time ago that I went... lord, it takes me forever to tell stories), there were paintings of Anne Boylene and Catherine of Aragon. I do remember going into spasms of historical ecstasy over them.

But, really, for me the whole point was the abbey outside. Walking out of the palace and into the abbey is like walking out of a stuffy version of dull history (not including the blood stain *grin*), and into the stuff that really interests people. There is no ceiling on the abbey, since it's entirely fallen, and the whole thing is in ruins. You can walk around it and see various stones left for people over time, in memory of past deads. But the whole place is like a haunted faith, fallen in on itself.

Pictures, as always, are here.


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