First-time visitors to Edinburgh usually have in mind at least two essential sights: the castle and the palace. Holyrood – comprising the abbey, the park and the palace – begins at the northern slope of Arthur’s Seat. The original palace was begun in about 1500 by James IV but was burnt down during English invasions in the 1540s. It was rebuilt but then destroyed again during one of Cromwell’s expeditions. Once more it was rebuilt; so, the structure we see today is substantially different from the original Palace of Holyroodhouse, and quite different also from that in which Mary Queen of Scots spent six tragic years – tragedy which in the course of time has come to seem like romance. When the present Queen is in town a flag flies from the front and the Duke of Edinburgh is often among the early morning strollers in the park behind.
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