The Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s most famous street. It connects Edinburgh Castle (to the west) with the Palace of Holyroodhouse (to the east).
Peculiarly, its length which measures 1.81 km is approximately one Scots mile long, which is longer than an English mile but hasn’t been used since the eighteenth century.
Along the thoroughfare there are numerous passageways (closes) and courts, which are worth visiting to get a glimpse of the city’s Medieval architecture.
The Royal Mile is divided into six areas, each very different from the other:
Castlehill and Castle Esplanade
Castlehill and Castle Esplanade are located closest to Edinburgh Castle and are the oldest part of the Royal Mile, being where the city was originally founded.
The main entrance of the Castle is found in the Castle Esplanade, a large open space which was used to burn the witches at the stake, and where currently the Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place every summer.
Up until the seventeenth century Lawnmarket was a market-place selling yarn, and used to be part of the High Street. It is 330 feet long and connects The Hub, a Gothic style church now used as a venue hall for the Edinburgh International Festival, to Bank Street. Bank Street was given this name because the road leads to the Bank of Scotland.
Due to its proximity to the Castle, Lawnmarket is where visitors will find infinite souvenir shops. The well preserved seventeenth-century house-museum, Gladstone’s Land is located in number 477b of this same street.
High Street is the most popular part of the Royal Mile. This street houses St Giles’ Cathedral, Tron Kirk, shops and numerous pubs and restaurants, which are often frequented by tourists but also by locals.
Canongate is the least-visited part of the Royal Mile. Until 1856 Canongate was an independent burgh, separated from the city and outside the walls. The wall that divided the burghs was located on Jeffrey Street, between Edinburgh and Canongate.
In the intersection of the Royal Mile with Jeffrey Street there are brass cobbles indicating the city gates’ exact location, while in front is The World’s End, one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh. The inhabitants of the city believed that there was no world outside the walls and this is why the pub is called “The World’s End”.
At night, this street is very empty; therefore, we recommend visiting it during the day.
This small part of the Royal Mile connects the end of Canongate, where Parliament Square is located, to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Museum of Childhood (164 m) Mary King’s Close (192 m) St Giles’ Cathedral (225 m) National Museum of Scotland (325 m) Museum on the Mound (346 m)