Scotland: Holyrood Palace and Abbey, Edinburgh
At the other end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle stand Holyrood Palace and the ruins of the abbey with the same name. The word Holyrood means Holy Cross, rightly enough, as a piece of the true cross was once associated with the abbey. The relic is thought to have disappeared during the Reformation but the name did not.
The main entrance to the palace, which is steeped in Scottish history, forms a vast plaza. We visited early one morning just after opening time at 9 am, a good time to avoid crowds.
Now the official summer residence of Queen Elizabeth, the public rooms of the palace can be toured.
We entered the inner courtyard and into a pleasing interior space.
Although I didn’t see any signs warning of the fact, photography inside the palace is forbidden. Promptly after snatching the image below of the main stairway, a young man raced to the top of the stairs to inform me that using my “device” was not allowed.
I don’t blame the British for this policy but it was a bit unnerving to realize that our every move was scrutinized via CCTV.
After exiting the halls of the palace we inspected the ruins of the abbey, which fell into disuse during the 18th century.
Originally founded in 1127, presumably to help honor the piece of the true cross, the abbey was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the property.
I have never understood the draw of the “self-guided audio tour,” with its jabbering non-stop commentary that always reminds me of a poorly-educated Egyptian tour guide going on about King Tut. I would rather contemplate the surroundings in silence. But that is just my opinion.
As the sun rose higher the sky cleared and we enjoyed another glorious autumn day in Scotland.
Yet in the end, a nagging doubt about these displays of royal assets bothers me. How so few individuals can gather around them such an extravagant amount of public wealth is a worrisome aspect of human culture, whether these displays are open to to tourists or not.