At the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the road running through Old Town Edinburgh, is Edinburgh Castle, which includes the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Scottish War Memorial, the Stone of Destiny and one really big cannon.
Its days as a stone fortress on top of a hill having passed long ago, the castle is a tourist attraction that on a sunny day like today offers compelling sights both inside and out.
As you walk through Old Town, you pass narrow alleyways, with just a glimpse of what’s on the other side. They’re utterly fascinating, like portals into different worlds.
If you’re into anything tartan or cashmere, it’s the place to be. You can also grab whisky if you like.
All the way down at the bottom of the hill is Holyrood Palace, the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II, although she only spends one week a year there.
Even though it is an official residence, the palace is basically a museum of Scottish and English royalty except for the few rooms used for official events such as the awarding of OBEs and MBEs.
But in all those other rooms that the public never sees, what does the Queen do when she’s not doing official duties, either there, Buckingham Palace or any of her other homes? According to these reports, she’s actually pretty busy most all the time.
The Scottish Parliament dissolved in 1707 after the Treaty of Union with England, and only returned in 1999 after a resolution passed establishing the body and giving it taxation powers.
To oversimplify, Scotland’s Parliament now has power over its internal affairs, while the British Parliament still holds sway over international matters and those affecting the entire union.
The building itself only dates to 2004, so it stands to reason that it doesn’t look like anything else around it, but that wasn’t what I found most striking.
Yes, the Scottish Parliament is directly across the street from Holyrood Palace.
Not on the same street, not nearby … directly across the street.
Between the existing devolution and talk of whether Brexit could trigger another independencevote in Scotland, the symbolism of looking at Parliament on the left and the palace on the right amazed me.