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Scotland
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Edinburgh - Palace of Holyroodhouse & Abbey

palace holyroodhouse
Holyrood Abbey was founded by King David I in 1128, on the spot where he saw a stag with a "rood" (cross) on it's head. By 1500, the Abbey was one of the most important monasteries in Scotland. King James IV built a grand fortified palace, Holyroodhouse, next door to the Abbey. This palace was home to kings and queens, including Mary Queen of Scots. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria stayed at Holyroodhouse, and today it's a real working palace, with visits by the royal family and state occasions.
 

Forecourt Fountain In forecourt the entrance to the palace is a large fountain, built for Queen Victoria in the 19th century. On the fountains are royal emblems – the lion and unicorn, stag with cross, plus dragon and thistles.

      Tip: Look for unicorns and lions – The Royal Arms of Scotland display two unicorns on either side of a shield decorated with a lion. As kids tour the palace, look for these symbols. In the forecourt alone there are five unicorns – two on the royal arms above the entrance, on the gate with a twirly copper horn, on the left tower, and on the fountain.
    State Apartments There are 289 rooms in the palace, but kids will only see a few. Walk through the spiffy Royal Dining Room, with portrait of King George IV wearing tartan kilt, Morning Drawing Room covered with tapestries (even the tables and chairs), and King's Bedroom, with a bed draped with red brocade (monarch doesn't sleep here today).
 

Great Gallery The biggest room in the palace with 89 portraits of the kings of Scotland.

 

Star of the Order of the ThistleThe monarch is the head of the ancient Order of the Thistle (sixteen knights). When new knights are invested, the monarch wears a green velvet robe and huge pin, the "Star," decorated with many diamonds in a star pattern, and a thistle of rubies and emeralds.

 

James IV Tower This is our favorite part of the palace. First walk through Lord Darnley's Bedchamber, then climb up a narrow spiral stairs to Queen Mary's Bedchamber – her bed is beautifully decorated with blue embroidered hangings.

      Check out the small supper room (not very big), where the Queen Mary was having dinner with her secretary David Rizzio, when Darnley's men rushed in, Rizzio was dragged to the room next door (Audience Chamber), and stabbed 56 times.
      In the Audience Chamber are fascinating goodies, such as a lock of Mary Queen of Scot's hair (it was white when she died), and embroidery she made while imprisoned for nearly 20 years. A plaque marks the spot where Rizzio met his end.
    Holyrood AbbeyAfter touring the palace, go next door to Holyrood Abbey. Once one of the largest monasteries in Scotland, it's now in ruins, but is still quite impressive. The remaining nave is atmospheric with Gothic arches and massive columns.
    From the Abbey, take a turn around the Palace Gardens, and back to the forecourt, where you started.
travel for kids | scotland | edinburgh | palace of holyroodhouse & abbey
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