Scotland Travel

Palace of Holyroodhouse

I wanted to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, as any Royalist would do. So, on our trip to Scotland, we’ve decided to visit the Palace while in Edinburgh. Before going to the Palace, we’ve been to the Chihuahua Cafe. As you can imagine, our day was pretty special.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

We got an audio guide and that is very interesting. In the Palace we were not allowed to take pictures, so I can only share pictures from outside and with artwork from the Queen’s Gallery. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is a working place, with the Queen meeting here dignitaries and representatives from the Scottish government, like the Prime Minister.

The tower on the left is one of the oldest parts of the Palace.

Palace of Holyroodhouse entrance

Palace of Holyroodhouse interior garden

This is the inner courtyard. From here we went on to visit the State Apartments, the King’s Bedchamber, the Privy Chamber, the Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers, and the Throne Room.
It is a shame we were not allowed to take pictures, as there are some pretty amazing stories there. For example, Mary’s private secretary, David Rizzio was killed by her husband, Lord Darnley, and a group of Scottish lords. The secretary was stabbed 56 times and there is a small plaque where he was killed. The floor underneath the plaque has a slight pinkish shade, believed to be remnants of his blood.

In the Throne room, the Queen hosts lunches for the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle. It is so impressive and beautiful.

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Holyrood abbey

Holyrood Abbey is next to the Palace. Built in the 12th-century, in medieval times it was one of the most important abbeys in Scotland. There is a Royal Vault which contains the remains of James V, father of Mary Queen of Scots.

 Palace of Holyroodhouse - Holyrood abbey

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Holyrood abbey

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Special exhibition

The Queen’s Gallery hosted a special exhibition on Charles II – Art & Power. It was on for a few more days and now the gallery is prepared for another special exhibition: Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs, that will be on display from 21st June to 3rd November this year. We’ve seen the special exhibition for Russia at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, back in February this year.

Queen Elizabeth II bust at Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Charles II at Queen's Gallery

I am interested in Charles II, so I was delighted to see the exhibition. After my visit, I bought a book about it and I can’t wait to read it.

In this painting by Antonio Verrio, Charles II is presented riding a shell-backed chariot led by Neptune. Beside him are three women, depicting Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Funnily enough, I’ve seen another painting during our holiday in Scotland, in which the Scottish king was the man and England was a woman.

There were paintings with his wife, with his brother who will become James II, and, of course, with his mistresses.

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Display at Queen's Gallery

Charles II was interested in science and he has shown support for the Royal Society. The Royal Society was founded in 1660 and it received royal charter in 1662. Charles would conduct scientific experiments himself. These books were published at that time, on topics like methods and experiments. In the middle is the book Micrographia or some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses by Robert Hooke. The book is dedicated to Charles II who has requested the study. Hooke’s drawings must have been spectacular at that time.
John Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal, appointed by Charles, and he wrote a catalogue of fixed stars.

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Queen's Gallery

Another painting that was very interesting and thus a highlight for me was this one. It is called A Vanitas and it was painted by Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten. He was able to paint reflective surfaces. It is amazingly accurate and beautiful, see a close up in the next picture.
The silver medal marks the creation of John Maitland as Duke of Lauderdale and on the gold medal is a portrait of Charles II in Roman dress.

Detail of a picture at Queen's Gallery

Palace of Holyroodhouse - Queen's Gallery

It is a wonderful place to visit. I would suggest allowing about three hours for your visit, so you have plenty of time to admire the rooms, the art pieces in the special exhibitions, and that gorgeous garden.

Palace of Holyroodhouse is in Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX. There is an ample pay & display car park near the Palace. The entry fee for the Palace of Holyroodhouse is £15 per adult and there is an additional fee is you want to visit the Queen’s Gallery, of £7.50 per adult. There is a special price if you book both on the day though. I think is worth visiting both. If you ask that your ticket is considered as a donation, you get free re-admission for a year.

7 Comment

  1. We somehow missed going into Holyroodhouse when we were in Edinburgh a few years ago. I’ll definitely have to visit sometime.

  2. I remember seeing Holyroodhouse when I went to Edinburgh years ago. We did not visit inside as we didn’t have enough time and were living on student money (so to speak!) but it seems really worth seeing. There’s so much history going on there. Thank you for sharing everything you could about the place, pictures and all! 🙂

    Julia x

  3. Having just seen that (disappointing) Mary Queen of Scots film, I really enjoyed this post. The details in that painting are incredible.

  4. This is a fascinating post, Anca, and your photos are really beautiful. Pity you couldn’t shoot inside, though. The exhibit sounds really interesting (so does the upcoming one about the Romanovs. I wonder if it was the one that was at V&A last October?). The architectural shots of the abbey are quite striking too.

  5. I love these places you visit. They all look so grand. Amazing places that still keep intact. What a great history.

  6. What an amazing palace. I love the realism of the painting by Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten. Some artists are just incredible!

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