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The Royal Family's official residence in Scotland

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Holyrood Abbey
Great Gallery
Edinburgh Castle has always been at the heart of the city's history, but in truth it's a bit of an unfriendly place. It stands alone on a tall hill, exposed to the wind and rain. Scotland's Kings and Queens have always preferred to spend most of their time in more comfortable surroundings.
Their official home is the Palace of Holyroodhouse - also known as Holyrood Palace. It started life in the 12th century as a simple monastery, but soon became much more important. By the 1400s, monarchs were born, crowned and married here.
The first true palace was constructed on this site at the turn of the 16th century. Just a few decades later it played an important part in the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. From Holyrood, the young Catholic tried to rule over a Protestant nation. This proved to be a difficult task, and the building became an unhappy place. In 1566 it was the scene of murder. The victim was David Rizzio, an Italian musician who had become Mary's personal secretary. They were spending a lot of time together, and the Queen's husband was terribly jealous. Under his orders, Rizzio was brutally stabbed to death. The event had a significant effect on Mary, contributing to her eventual downfall.
Another unlucky resident of Holyrood Palace was Bonnie Prince Charlie. In the 18th century, he led an almost-successful rebellion against the monarchy. Charlie believed that his family were the rightful rulers, but his efforts to take Scotland back ended in vain.

The view over Holyrood Palace
Photo alh1
Since then, the country has been at peace. The United Kingdom's rulers have continued to spend time here, particularly for state functions. The palace is the official residence of the Royal Family in Scotland. Elizabeth II comes here for at least one week a year to carry out various pieces of business and tradition. The biggest event is the annual garden party, when the Queen honours around 8000 of the country's highest achievers by inviting them to Holyrood.
In the palace itself, you can see the actual apartments of the Royal Family. Their varied styles and decorations show the changing tastes of the monarchy through time. The various furnishings and plasterwork are examples of the finest craftsmanship money can buy. The most striking room is the Great Gallery, which connects the King's and Queen's apartments. It's hung with dozens of portraits of Scottish rulers. The images span the entire country's history, portraying both historic and mythical figures.
When the monarchy isnt in residence, the palace and grounds are open to visitors. Also on show are the atmospheric remains of the original abbey. It was built by David I after he experienced a miracle here. Back in the past, when this was just forest, he was nearly gored by a deer's antlers. At the last second, the creature was startled by the shining image of a holy cross, suspended in the sky. Afterwards, David built the abbey as thanks to God. This story may or may not be true, but you can certainly imagine miracles taking place in these quiet, hushed ruins.

Remains of the original Abbey
Photo www.theedinburghblog.co.uk
During the warmer months of the year, visitors are allowed into the gardens. It's a pretty, but delicate place. You're only allowed to walk on the paths, to avoid causing damage to the carefully maintained plant life.
Holyrood Palace stands opposite Edinburgh Castle, at the eastern end of the Royal Mile. Together, the two buildings have shared a huge amount of Scotland's political history.
Visitor Information
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is open daily from 9:30am to 6pm (4:30pm in Winter). Entry costs around £11 for adults, £7 children. Canongate, The Royal Mile EH8 8DX. Tel: 0131 556 5100

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