History in the Making

Travel Thursday, Holyroodhouse Palace and Abbey

While I was living in Ireland, my mom came to visit me for a week! We took advantage of cheap flights in Europe, and decided to go head to Edinburgh. We focused on the Royal Mile, which is sandwiched between Edinburgh Castle and  the Palace and Abbey of Holyroodhouse. Although both palaces are strongly intertwined with the Scottish throne, only Holyroodhouse is still used as a Royal Residence by the British monarch. The only downfall to this is that you are not allowed to take any pictures inside the Palace itself. However, in my opinion, the Abbey is actually far more striking anyways.

Holyroodhouse Travel Thursday

Holyroodhouse Palace Courtyard

We went to the Palace and Abbey of Holyroodhouse on the second morning that we were in Edinburgh. As soon as you walk, through the gates, you are greeted with a muted but still incredibly impressive palace. The fountain is gorgeous, and I was blown away by the detail that was put into one small feature of the palace.

Holyroodhouse Palace Front View

Holyroodhouse Palace Fountain

Holyroodhouse Palace Fountain Portrait

The current palace was built in the early 1670s, and it was the site of the murder of David Rizzio, secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots. (If you look closely in Mary’s apartments, you can see the grizzly bloodstain on the floor and wall. Those sixteenth century murderers really made their mark…) The current Queen only uses Holyroodhouse for 1-2 weeks a year, but she hosts various dinners and garden parties during that time. On our tour, one of the tour guides actually had a cousin who lived in St. James, an area of Winnipeg. Just when you think you’ve escaped Winnipeg, you HAVEN’T.

Holyroodhouse Abbey 3

After touring the Palace, we spent quite a bit of time in the ruins. After decades and decades of neglect, the roof of the Abbey finally collapsed in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, which led to the ruins that you see now. What’s incredible is how much of the Abbey is gone, and how close to the Palace it really is. It interesting to see that one building is left completely to ruin while the other is flourishing and upkept. One of the tour guides told us that Zara Phillips took some of her wedding pictures at the ruins, and you can see why when you see these pictures.

Holyroodhouse Abbey 2

Holyroodhouse Abbey 7

Holyroodhouse Abbey 12

Holyroodhouse Abbey 14

Holyroodhouse Abbey Ruin Details

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Holyroodhouse Abbey 8

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Holyroodhouse Abbey 4

If you wander over to the gates, you can actually see where the Queen holds her annual garden party at Holyroodhouse! Being that we were there in March, we didn’t see anything set up of course, but it’s still cool to see where it would be.

Holyroodhouse Abbey 11

After we were finished walking through the Palace and the Abbey, we stopped in at the cafe! I have to say that although food at the Palaces are typically more expensive than not, it is usually worth it! This cupcake was delicious.

Holyroodhouse Palace Cupcake

The Palace of Holyroodhouse was a very different experience, in terms of all of the castles/palaces that I have visited. It is much quieter and calm, and more regular. I can understand why British monarchs often consider their Scottish homes as their quiet and relaxing spaces. I’m so thankful that my mom and I were able to stop by!

What has been a happy surprise for you during your travels? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian!


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