The area known as the Edinburgh Royal Mile is made up of the streets that are known as the Old Town in the city of Edinburgh and is approximately one Scottish mile long. The mile runs west to east from Edinburgh Castle at the top of Castle Rock to Holyrood Abbey. The mile is made up of Edinburgh’s most famous and visited streets and is equalled only by Princes Street in the new town. The area that makes up the mile consists of the following:
Castle Esplanade and Castle Hill
The Esplanade is a troop’s parade ground and is where the Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place. Following on from the Castle Esplanade is Castle Hill and contains Highland St. John’s Church at the south side, and which is now Headquarters for the Edinburgh International Festival Society. Close to the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions on the north side is the Hub, one of the oldest of the city’s tourist attractions. Further down on the same side as the Hub is New College and the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, where between 1999 and 2004 the Scottish Parliament met.
The Lawnmarket, originally the linen market, is full of tourist shops and on the left is Gladstone’s Land, a seventeenth century town house that is owned by the Scottish National Trust. The buildings on the south side have seventeenth century gables. The George the fourth bridge is to the right at the bottom of the Lawnmarket and on the left is Bank Street, which leads to the Mound and to Edinburgh’s New Town. On the south side of the Lawnmarket is a new hotel, which in 20o0/10 won both the carbuncle and best buildings awards.
The High street is the central focus of the city when the Edinburgh Festival takes place, and the street is filled with buskers, entertainers and tourists. About a third of the way down from the castle enroute to the palace is Parliament Square, and Parliament House is now home to Scotland’s supreme civil court. St. Giles Church is also in the square and by its West Door there is a pattern marked in the road known as the heart of Midlothian, where the former Tolbooth prison stood. Locals spit on the heart as they spit on the memory of the prison.
The central point of the Royal Mile is the Bridges main intersection between Princes Street and the North Bridge. Along the same stretch is John Knox House just before the old limits of the city at St. Mary’s Street and Jeffrey Street where the old fortified gate, Netherbow stood. The mile continues along Canongate and eventually to Abbey Strand, the approach to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. At the end of this stretch is the remains of the gatehouse to Holyrood Palace with James the fifths coat of arms set in the wall. Nowadays the Royal Mile contains many shops and cafes and pubs as well as its historical monuments.