Edinburgh

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Edinburgh Castle

This is Scotland's most famous tourist attraction. The castle has had a rich and colourful history, withstanding numerous attacks from Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads in 1650, and William and Mary's army in 1689. It was also the birthplace of James VI of Scotland (who became James I of England in 1603), who was born to Mary Queen of Scots in a tiny room in the Royal Residence in 1566. It became the main castle of Scotland's monarchs in the Middle Ages; the buildings within the fortress include a 12th century chapel - Edinburgh's oldest building- and the Great Hall, completed in 1511.

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Edinburgh Castle
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The Georgian House

This elegant late 18th-century townhouse is located on Charlotte Square, which was designed by Robert Adam in 1791 to symbolise the Georgian ideal of Edinburgh's New Town. Restored by the National Trust for Scotland, the house is furnished with period fittings and accoutrements; a film presentation explains the social and economic conditions of the time; and staff in period costume enact scenes which show how the owners of the house and their servants would have lived.

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The Georgian House
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Mary Kings Close

Before the New Town was built, in the late 18th century, almost everyone in Edinburgh lived in "closes" - steep, narrow streets built on the slopes either side of the Royal Mile. A block of four of these closes has been opened up and can be visited by the public. Guided tours of Mary King's Close are conducted by actors playing people who really lived there in the 16th and 17th centuries: a merchant, a street-cleaner, a serving-maid and the youngest daughter of Mary King herself. They give a fascinating insight into life and work in the medieval Old Town.

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Mary Kings Close
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North Berwick

The pleasant seaside town of North Berwick is well worth exploring. On sunny days its glorious beaches and golf courses are deservedly popular. The views from the top of Berwick Law, the hill overlooking the town, make the hike worth it. Nearby Tantallon Castle was the last great mediaeval castle to be built in Scotland, in the 1350s. It was the seat for three centuries of the Earls of Angus, one of Scotland's most powerful families. It withstood two great sieges in the 15th and 16th centuries; finally, in 1651, it was captured and destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's army. Its stunning location, on a cliff overlooking the Firth of Forth, and its magnificent sandstone curtain wall make it one of the most impressive castles in the Scottish lowlands.

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North Berwick
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Rosslyn Chapel

Founded in 1446 by the St Clair family, Rosslyn Chapel has inspired visitors for generations with its extraordinary architecture and carvings. It has had close links with the Masons of Scotland since 1630 and featured in the best-selling novel and 2006 Hollywood film, The Da Vinci Code. In 1805, Sir Walter Scott wrote The Lay of the Last Minstrel, a poem about the myth that, on the night that a Baron of Rosslyn dies, the chapel appears as if it is on fire. The chapel is full of rich carvings, including Masonic and Christian images, the interesting Apprentice Pillar and over a hundred carvings of the 'Green Man', a pagan figure representing the unity between humankind and nature.

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Rosslyn Chapel
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