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  • Writer's pictureAlex van Terheyden

A magnificent place to visit in Edinburgh that won't cost you a penny?


The High Kirk of Edinburgh, also known as St Giles Cathedral, is one of Scotland's most important religious landmarks. The church is situated on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's Old Town, and its distinctive spire dominates the cityscape. For over 900 years, St Giles has played a central role in Scottish religious and political life, and its history is inextricably linked to that of the city and the nation.

King David I of Scotland founded the first church on the St Giles site in the 12th century, dedicating it to St Giles, the patron saint of lepers. The church began as a small chapel, but it grew in size and importance over time. The church became the official place of worship for the city council and the Scottish parliament, which met in the church's Chapter House in the 14th century.


St Giles has undergone many changes and renovations over the centuries, reflecting Scotland's changing religious and political landscape. The church's most recognisable feature is its striking crown spire, which was added in the 15th century and is now one of Edinburgh's most recognisable landmarks. The Thistle Chapel, which was added in the 17th century and is the home of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland's highest order of chivalry, is another notable feature.


St Giles' interior is equally impressive, with a variety of architectural styles and artistic treasures. The massive Thistle Altar, which features a beautiful wood-carved triptych depicting scenes from Christ's life, dominates the church's nave. The stained-glass windows in the church are also noteworthy, with many dating back to the nineteenth century and depicting scenes from Scottish history and mythology.


The Scottish Reformation, which began in the 16th century and resulted in the establishment of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, was one of the most significant historical events to occur at St Giles. With its minister, John Knox, one of the most prominent figures in the Scottish Reformation, St Giles played a central role in this movement. Knox's sermons at St Giles were famous for their fiery rhetoric and unwavering anti-Catholicism, and he was instrumental in establishing the Presbyterian Church as Scotland's dominant religion.




St Giles is still an active place of worship today, as well as a popular tourist destination and cultural landmark. Visitors can explore the church's many historical and artistic treasures and attend regular services and concerts. St Giles is also important in Edinburgh's civic life, hosting events like the annual St Giles' Cathedral Music Festival and the Kirking of the Council, a traditional ceremony in which the city's elected officials are blessed by the church.


St Giles Cathedral is a symbol of Scotland's history and identity, in addition to its religious and cultural significance. From the Scottish Reformation to King James VI's coronation in 1567, the church has been the site of many significant events in Scottish history. Its striking spire and elegant architecture demonstrate the skill and artistry of Scotland's craftsmen and builders, while its stained-glass windows and artworks reflect the country's rich cultural heritage.


Finally, St Giles Cathedral is a notable and significant historical landmark in Scotland, as well as a testament to the country's religious and cultural heritage. It is a must-see destination for anyone interested in Scottish history and culture, with its beautiful architecture, stunning artworks, and rich history. Whether you are a visitor to Edinburgh or a resident of Scotland, St Giles is a place of inspiration and reflection, as well as a symbol of the Scottish people's enduring spirit.


I am not sponsored by the Scottish Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel. As always, videos can always be found on YouTube & Odysee. I use both as sadly YouTube is now censoring content whereas Odysee is for free speech.


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Thank you - Alex van Terheyden



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