Perched on top of a long-extinct volcano, the Edinburgh castle was built in the 12th century. It acted as the Scottish Royal Residence until the 15th century, and from there served mostly as military barracks. With 26 sieges throughout its existence, Edinburgh Castle is the most besieged fortress in Great Britain and almost Europe. It contains insightful military museums, the country's Crown jewels and prison cells taking you deep into Scottish history.
Edinburgh Castle is one of the most storied monuments in the world. The plateau on which it is built in the centre of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland has been inhabited for over 7,000 years in one form or another. The castle was first constructed sometime in the eleventh century, perhaps about 1060, though records are unclear as to the exact date. However, it was during the reigns of King Malcolm III and King David I in the twelfth century that the monument first became a major center of royal power in Scotland. Various sections were added in the centuries that followed, such that the construction of the Castle cannot be dated to any one particular time. Some of the most important additions included David’s Tower, built during the reign of King David II in the second half of the fourteenth century, while a Great Hall and royal apartments were added by King James II a century later.
By the sixteenth century, the monument was increasingly being used as a military fortification as the royal family began to use residences elsewhere in and near Edinburgh, notably the Abbey of Holyrood. As a result of this change in purpose the monument has been the site of dozens of military engagements over the years. The last of these occurred in 1745 during the Second Jacobite Rising. During this conflict, Scottish supporters of the old royal family of the Stuarts rose up and tried to retake the throne for the Jacobite or Stuart claimant, James Francis Stuart, who had maintained a claim to the throne from exile in France throughout the early eighteenth century. James’s main general in Scotland, his son Charles Stuart, laid siege to the castle, but could not take it and the rebellion collapsed soon thereafter.
Today the monument attracts over two million visitors per year. It is located at the end of the so-called Royal Mile, which extends through the Old Town of Edinburgh. The route from the town up to the monument and its grounds is along the esplanade, a sloping gangway up to the castle grounds on the plateau. Because of its height the castle dominates the skyline of central Edinburgh today.
A substantial number of the visitors to the monument arrive during August for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which takes place on the esplanade of the monument and involves massive parades of military regiments and pipe bands. This is broadcast to dozens of countries internationally and garners an audience which is estimate to exceed 100 million viewers, making the Castle one of the world’s most ubiquitous monuments.