What could be more enchanting than a royal city that has been the center of courtly intrigue and international battles since the Middle Ages? A visit to Edinburgh, Scotland, will put you in the heart of just such a city.

The core of Edinburgh’s tourist sights is the Royal Mile, the downtown area that extends east from medieval Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which continues as a royal residence when Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is in town. Along the mile-and-107-yard stretch, St. Giles Cathedral stands tribute to centuries of Scotland’s history with its Gothic architecture and unique crown-shaped spire. Inside, where reformer John Knox once preached, hundreds of memorials, the famous Thistle Chapel and stunning stained-glass windows instill the same reverence experienced by worshippers for a thousand years.

Similar in architecture is the Scott Monument, a memorial to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott that can be climbed for a panoramic city view.

At the east end of the Mile is the royal Palace at Holyroodhouse as well as the ultra-modern Scottish Parliament building. To the west, high atop an extinct volcano, is Edinburgh Castle. Here you can visit the Scottish Crown Jewels in a palace on Crown Square, explore cannon batteries that defended the fortress or see a medieval siege cannon up close and personal.
The castle’s location is not the only of Edinburgh’s many famous hills. The National Gallery of Scotland and a number of important businesses are located on The Mound, an artificial hill created by the excavation of a loch in the middle of downtown.

Closer to Holyrood is Calton Hill. The steep climb to its top brings visitors a sweeping view of the rugged Salisbury Crags and mythical Arthur’s Seat rising behind them. Old buildings and monuments abound on the hill, including the never-finished replica Parthenon that was started and stopped in the 1800s. An old cemetery dating to the mid-1700s includes a life-size statue of Abraham Lincoln, which honors Scotsmen who lost their lives during the American Civil War.

With a depth of history spanning centuries, Edinburgh is an excellent escape into bygone eras of knights and kings, fortresses and palaces. Take a few minutes to experience its historic beauty through this desktop getaway.