Thursday, 28 November 2013

Review: Palace of Holyrood House

I love history, especially Scottish history. We are a very old country, rich in history and subsequently, lots of scandal! I suppose this love of history was instilled in me at a young age by my dad, who has a great love of history and really is very knowledgable. Many a summer holiday was spent with my mum sister and I traipsing around castles, graveyards and museums with him.  It's only now that I'm older that I truly appreciate him trying to educate us.

The lovely people over at Superbreak sent us to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, or to give it it's official title, the Palace of Holyrood House. Hubby, the wee one and I, with both my mum and dad in tow, travelled through to Edinburgh on a beautifully sunny, but very chilly day. 

We arrived the Palace around 11 o'clock, having researched nearby car parks, and had planned to bite the bullet and pay the car parking charges to park at the nearest one. However, we discovered the holy grail of car drivers: FREE PARKING ON SATURDAYS!! Our day was off to a fabulous start. 

We presented our voucher at the ticket office, paid for my dads ticket and as he's a senior citizen got in for a reduced price, and kids under 5 go free. 

The palace is stunning.  This is what meets you when you go through the gate:

Unfortunately, and understandably, you're not allowed to take photos inside the palace. Which is a real shame because I'm kinda rubbish at describing! 

As you go in we climbed the grand stairs, which has beautiful tapestries and paintings of the monarchs and the royal family.  You most definitely need the free audio guide which, if you're like me and know very little about the history, is essential to your trip. The audio guide is really informative, and very clear.

We strolled through the rooms, the throne room and the gallery, listening to the guide, but the wee one was getting restless, understandably as there's not a lot to entertain her.  However, we found a room which was absolutely ideal! It has crayons, puzzle sheets, blocks, puppets, dressing up costumes etc

It also had interactive stuff (for the big kid!)

And beautiful seats with the thistle emblem! 

Dad and I left the wee one there with hubby and my mum, so we could continue on our little history tour.  The Gallery and throne rooms are still in use, for ceremonies and special occasions. It really is beautiful. We climbed some very narrow stairs leading from Mary Queen of Scots bedroom, to a very cold part of the palace, where the audio tour informed us that a man, suspected of being Mary Queen of Scots Italian lover, was murdered. It certainly was a creepy room.

I am most definitely not a fan of these stairs! 

But the garden in the middle of the palace is beautiful! 

We explored the abbey ruins, which were beautiful but it was exceptionally cold!

Walking over people's graves has always freaked me out

...but it doesn't seem to bother the wee one! 

The palace gardens are closed in the autumns and winter, so this was a close as we could get to them.  They look gorgeous in the autumn light! 

And of course, the wee one had to copy her grandad, who pretended to be a soldier earlier:

It took about an hour to do the whole palace with the audio tour. There were employees dotted about to answer any questions or to help, like keeping the pram safe as we couldn't take it up the narrow stairs. After our tour it was time to heat up in the cafe with a cup of coffee, and of course, grandad cuddles!

Holyrood palace is an excellent starting point for exploring Edinburgh. You can walk right up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle from the palace, and the Scottish Parliament is right across the road (which in my opinion is the worst looking building, and looks totally out of place in such an historic part if the city).  There's also Arthur's Seat to climb, which is right behind the palace too. There were lots of people climbing it the day we were there, it was just a tad too cold (and high up) for my liking! 

We had a fabulous day, and I'm quite looking forward to a return visit when they have a specific event on for children (and most definitely on a warmer day!)

*Superbreak gave us a voucher admitting 3 adults in to the Palace, in exchange for an honest review* 

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