One of the reasons I love Europe so much is because of its amazing history, or more precisely how easy it is to experience part of European history even today.
In Europe, history is all around us, and Edinburgh was no exception: The Auld Reekie (smokey city), like it was once called, was a city bursting with history.
The black stains on the buildings in the Old town marked the evidence of just how polluted the city once was, and the narrow closes (alleyways), leading the curious visitor into a labyrinth of small streets, are still there preserving the town’s medieval layout.
Edinburgh is often referred to as the most haunted city in Europe, perhaps because around every corner there is a story to tell.
I don’t think I have ever learned so much about a city’s history through stories and tales as I have of Edinburgh, and the fact that the city has preserved so much of its medieval architecture and style made it easy to imagine what it must have been like living back then.
But Edinburgh brings the past even closer than that – in fact there are even streets and rooms that have remained untouched since then: a close called Mary King’s Close.
Mary King’s Close
Mary King’s Close is a warren of underground streets and spaces, a place which has remained frozen in time since the 17th century when it was open to the skies and full of life.
It was amazing to see how everything was still there, how the narrow street where people used to trade their goods was still intact, how even the wooden toilet of one of the families who used to live there was still standing right where they had left it, some 300 years earlier.
The ceilings in the rooms were covered in plaster made of horse hair and the ashes of human bodies who died in the plague, and in Mary King’s Close plague was so common that they had to quaranteen the close, which is now the most haunted place in Scotland!
It gave you a very real impression of life in the days when people threw their waste out on the streets and had to walk barefoot in it themselves because they were too poor to afford shoes.
The Edinburgh you see today is a mixture of the best, it has the same cozy atmosphere, but cleaner and safer, and with some incredible green gardens and family villas to escape to as well.
We left Edinburgh with a fascination of the city’s past, but so happy to be there in the 21st century..!
Our trip through Scotland was in general filled with stories from the past, of how Scotland came to be, of William Wallace, and the Scottish pride and shame.
The Scotts seemed to love their tales, and like the Scottish proverb goes ”a good tale never tires in the telling”.
It’s been great to see so much of Scotland and get to know its history.
Next time I’m back in the UK I’d like to do the same with England, visit the “heart of England”, indulge a bit and stay in one of those traditional thatched luxury Cotswold cottages and learn more about the stories and tales from England, which make it what it is today.
Disclaimer: Our trip to Scotland was in part sponsored by VisitScotland.