The High Kirk of Edinburgh, St. Giles’ Cathedral is the central spot for worship in the Scottish capital. Founded in the 12th century, it is one of the top sights of the Royal Mile.
St. Giles Cathedral is a working church, but as worship is not in progress, entrance remains free and open to the public. Particular points of interest include the Thistle Chapel, a number of memorials and beautiful stained glass windows dating as far back as 1873. Though sometimes prevented by restoration work, the cathedral offers guided tours of rooftop and clock tower several times a day in the summer. There is also a gift shop and café on site.
Centrally located in the Edinburgh Old Town, St. Giles Cathedral stands stalwartly on the Royal Mile. It is within walking distance of many other attractions of the Scottish capital. Edinburgh Castle is less than a 10-minute walk away. The University of Edinburgh is less than a 15-minute walk away.
It’s no secret the Scottish have a lot of national pride and a complicated history with southern neighbour England. St. Giles Cathedral was a central point in Scottish-English religious conflicts in the 17th century. In 1637, King Charles I and his Archbishop tried to impose Anglican services on the Church of Scotland, and an event at St. Giles led to a riot. Today, St. Giles remains steadfastly with the Church of Scotland.