The Royal Mile

The sites that I was in charge of blogging about were The Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle, specifically the war prisons (I shared the castle with Alex). This is kind of ironic because The Holyrood Palace and the Edinburgh Castle make up what is called the “Royal Mile”. The Holyrood Palace being at the bottom of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle being at the top. The Royal Mile is absolutely beautiful. It is covered with some of Edinburgh’s finest structures, shops, eateries, and pubs. There are also neat tourist attractions such as street performers, vendors, animal displays, ghost tours, and great food and drink deals. One of the things we did as a class was The Scotch Whisky Experience which ended up being spectacular. But enough of the minor details, let us talk about the reason why I am writing today, starting with Edinburgh Castle’s Prisons of War. The prisons are located right next to where the museums are for the Scottish Military, which is towards the back of the castle. Prisoners came from many places ranging all over Europe and even out West from the Americas. More specifically the prisons were made up of prisoners from France, America, Spain, The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, and Poland. It might be odd to see all of these nationalities spread out throughout the prison, but Edinburgh Castle’s prison was a functional prison through many wars. To mention a few, there was the American War of Independence where Scotland housed many American prisoners that were captured on ships or captured fleeing from the British. There were prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars, World War One and Lastly World War Two. The first prisoners that were ever so lucky to be held inside the prison were French Privateers. They were captured in 1758. Although there were pirates captured before this time, they were usually hung. Historians know of many of the prisoners due to the evidence they leave behind. On the prison doors there were many carvings from the inhabitants that lived there over the years. Among these carvings were names, dates, pictures of ships, as well as words in different languages. This evidence points towards different groups of people and given the time periods we can assume what wars they were most likely captured during. The prisons had a unique setup attributed from their architecture. The prisons were separated by doors and were rectangular so it was very easy to separate the inmates. The prisoners were separated from where they came from so different soldiers were separated unless there were too many to separate. Also there were loft type structures where hammocks were hung from the top of the posts. Beds were then fit underneath all of the hammocks with side tables around the beds. This allowed the prison to house many prisoners at once, but at times could mean cramped spaces. The prisons were not all bad, there was food lying around, and games were provided as well as letters were written to pass the time. Now let us move to the bottom of the Royal Mile to the extravaganza that is The Holyrood Palace. The Palace was built between 1671 and 1678, and marks the beginning or end of the Royal Mile depending on which way you prefer walking, me myself would call it the end. The Palace was built in a quadrangular shape making the middle of the Palace a large square. The Palace was used to house the Kings and Queens of the Scots and also housed their families and guests as well as servants. With the sheer size of the Palace it was able to house many people which was advantageous to the King and Queen. The King, out of all of the people, had the most of the castle to himself. Combining his bed chambers, the antechamber, and his closet he had the south and east sides of the quadrangle to himself. Other rooms in the castle, more notable, were the morning and even drawing rooms and the Great Gallery. The Great Gallery was the largest room in the entire house. It had paintings, just as most of the Palace, but this room housed 110 paintings of Scottish Monarchs, which in itself is extremely impressive. The Palace did more than just house royalty it is often used for ceremonies for awards. Scotland recognizes its personal heroes in the Palace such as actor Sean Connery and Chef Gordon Ramsey. The Palace is even gorgeous on the outside as it holds ten acres of gardens that are filled with sculptures, fountains, and beautiful flowers and wildlife. The Royal Mile is nothing short of spectacular and unless you see it for yourself words and pictures just don’t do it justice.

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