St Giles

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Royal Mile, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

St Giles Edinburgh Reviews

sarahelaine sarahela…
648 reviews
St Giles Nov 08, 2009
St Giles is.a cathedral on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. As the Church of Scotland doesn't have bishops, my mother insists it is a Kirk (church) and not a cathedral. But it does predate the reformation. I'll refer to it as "St Giles" to avoid any further conversation about the history of the Church for now!

St Giles is a small cathedral by international standards, but is very distinctive from teh outside. The crown shaped tower dates to about the middle of the sixteenth century and is an important part of the royal mile skyline, and the golden weathercocks have been restored recently.

at the moment, the church is undergoing restoration and fitting a new entrance to make it more accessible for people in wheelchairs.

St Giles has suffered two catastrophes in terms of its art works. The first was the reformation, particularly fierce in Edinburgh, where anything considered a "graven image," including the windows and statues, were smashed as blasphemous. The other was the Victorians, who decided to "modernise" a lot of the original carvings and a famous doorway, which in the few surviving sketches looked lovely. So the Kirk itself is quite plain inside. The stained glass windows are either Victorian or modern, and some of them are lovely.

There are some interesting memorials, including to Robert Louis Stevenson. You can also visit the Thistle chapel, which is something to do with the Queen's order of the Thistly and was built in the early twentieth century. Apparently it has some interesting carvings, but I didn't realy want to pay two pounds to see it.

Entrance to tSt Giles is by a small voluntary donation.

St Giles is worth a quick visit, but will probably only take up twenty minutes on your way between the castle and Holyrood Palace unless you have a particular interest in the history. There are regular services; the church is still in full use as a kirk and feels less dead and touristy than many similarly historic cathedrals.

They ask you not to take photos without a permit, which costs two pounds.
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