Over the years the fortress has changed hands numerous times. In 1296, King Edward I of England conquered Scotland, breaking the castle's defense after a three-day siege, however, in 1314 Scotsmen led by Robert Bruce recovered the conquered castle.
There is a lot of gossip as well as many legends associated with Edinburgh Castle. People say that ghosts of former rulers still wander about its halls and corridors. Also, there is a tale about a mysterious Stone of Destiny kept within the walls during ancient times. Every King ascending the throne had to sit on the stone. It was believed that it would crack under a false sovereign. But at the time of the siege of 1296, Edward I took the mysterious Stone of Destiny and only in 1996 (after 700 years!) Her Majesty the Queen allowed the stone to be returned to Scotland. We were lucky to see the relic with our own eyes.
The large territory of the castle, with strong walls separating it from the city, hides a whole range of unique ancient buildings. One of them is the Birth Chamber located in the Royal Palace. It was here where, in 1566, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, gave birth to the future King James VI of Scotland who later became James I of England and united Scotland and England in 1603.
From the Edinburgh Castle, there are breathtaking views of the whole city: here the monarchs would stroke their egos looking at their land. However, their liegemen watched an equally splendid view, as the castle that ornaments the city center is nestled at the very top of the 133 meter rock. I made sure not to forget my binoculars for the excursion and enjoyed observing the urban landscapes.
It was a real pleasure to wander around Edinburgh Castle, where information boards are installed along the fortification walls informing tourists of the location of different buildings and landmarks. I was impressed by the famous giant Mons Meg canon, dating back to the 15th century. I had lunch in the cosy Spirit Cafe on the Royal Mile, the Old Town's main historical street (only rivaled by Princes Street in the New Town). My next destination was the Hub, a magnificent Gothic building which for the last fifteen years has been a part of the International Edinburgh Festival. The Hub is situated in the upper part of the Royal Mile, next to the Edinburgh castle and it is the highest structure in the city center. Its spire can be seen from all corners of the Scotland capital. Annually, this tourist hot spot receives more than 500,000 visitors. A lot of people will go there to celebrate St. Andrew's Day, as the Hub will host a range of festive events.