The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town. With all the historic buildings along this street, it came as a surprise to me to learn the name ‘Royal Mile’ was only coined in 1901 in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century. The name was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920. The Royal Mile runs uphill from Holyrood Palace to the Castle. East to West it comprises Abbey Strand, Canongate, High Street, Lawnmarket, and Castlehill.
Visitors can spend an entire day sampling all the delights and sights along this single street in Scotland’s capital and that’s without doing any shopping. It’s always better to see a few things well than to see many things fleetingly, so pick your favourites and choose to spend more time at them.
Abbey Strand is the shortest of the five named parts of the Royal Mile and is only as long as the Queen’s Gallery, where items in the Royal collection are exhibited in the former Holyrood Free Church. There are also the remains of the gatehouse of Holyrood Palace built by James IV. The coat-of-arms set in the wall belong to James V and is not an original. With Holyrood at your back and looking up the Royal Mile, the modern building to the left is the Scottish Parliament. Work began in June 1999 and Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) held their first debate on 7 September 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died before its completion.