Visiting St Giles’ Cathedral :
St Giles’ Cathedral is one of Edinburgh’s best known attractions. The church is situated between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse on the Royal Mile and is strikingly beautiful. In fact, St Giles’ Cathedral’s crown spire is visible from almost any where in old Edinburgh.
St Giles’ Cathedral is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh. And, it is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism in Scotland. So you can imagine that St Giles’ Cathedral is at the heart of Scottish history and culture. Definitely a must see!
And like many places in Scotland, there is no admission charge. Donations are appreciated and encouraged however.
This cathedral is named St Giles’ after a sixth century Frenchman. It is said that he lived alone with animals in the woods. And one day a deer who was being hunted by the King fled into Giles’ arms for protection. The King was impressed, and undoubtedly so. He has since become the patron saint of ‘cripples’. I am not sure we use that term anymore, however.
In time, many communities dedicated their churches to him.
The present structure got its start in 1322 after the English army unhelpfully took down the former building. It’s interesting how many buildings in Scotland have their present form as a result of the wars with England. These reconstructed buildings are so beautiful its questionable whether the English should be praised for clearing the path for these incredible works. I suspect that would be going much to far!
In the years following 1322, building and improvements continued under the direction of many famous patrons. The Crown Spire was added in 1495. Today, it remains a working church so you may have an opportunity to attend a service here.
Look Up in St Giles’ Cathedral
Look up when you enter St Giles’ Cathedral and be prepared to be amazed! If only every roof can look so beautiful.
The Thistle Chapel was completed in 1911. It is used by the Scotland’s order of chivalry, the Knights of the Thistle. It is compact and beautiful. The incredible carvings in wood and stone are draw-dropping.
The entrance is opposite the main doors of the cathedral so it can be easy to miss. Make sure you don’t!
Hours and Times
- Summer Hours (May – September)
Monday – Friday 09.00 – 19.00
Saturday 09.00 – 17.00
Sunday 13.00 – 17.00
- Winter Hours (October – April)
Monday – Saturday 09.00 – 17.00
Rooftop tours are available for only £6. But these tours are limited to four people and occur during limited times, so plan ahead. Actually, I didn’t realize these tours were available when I was there. I wish I had known. Because there is no way £6 would have stood between me and that roof!
Currently, rooftop tours run Saturday 10.30am – 4pm and Sunday 1.30pm – 4pm.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
When we visit Edinburgh, we stay at the Apex Waterloo Place. It’s a great hotel but perfectly located at the bottom of Calton Hill, close to both the New Town and the Old Town and only steps from Waverly Station. And so it’s a great location to base yourself if you are interested in getting the most of your visit to Edinburgh.
I create photographs created using the incredible Olympus OM-D system.