Further up, High Street meets North Bridge which runs north over Waverley station to Princes Street, and South Bridge, which spans the Cowgate to the south. Further up on the right is Parliament Square, named after the old Parliament House which housed both the law courts and the old Parliament of Scotland between the 1630s and 1707. Parliament House now houses the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court.
St Giles’ Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, also stands in Parliament Square. By the West Door of St Giles’ is the Heart of Midlothian, a heart-shaped pattern built into the road, marking the site of the Old Tolbooth, formerly the centre of administration, taxation and justice in the burgh. The prison was described by Sir Walter Scott as the “Heart of Midlothian”, and soon after demolition the city fathers marked the site with the heart mosaic.
On the south side, just past the High Kirk, is the Mercat Cross from which royal proclamations are read and the summoning of Parliament announced. The whole south side of buildings from St Giles to the Tron Kirk had to be rebuilt or refaced in the 1820s following the Great Fire of 1824.