Palace of Holyroodhouse

Scotland's Versailles

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Palace of Holyroodhouse is most famous as the 16th-century home of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots. But in the buildings are largely a 17th-century affair full of outstanding plasterwork commissioned by a Charles II much impressed with cousin Louis XIV’s efforts at Versailles.

The palace’s Great Gallery is particularly impressive, running almost the full length of the palace. Inside it’s lined by portraits of almost 100 Scottish regents, painted by Jacob de Wet in 1684. They’re more a tribute to the artists creativity than anything, since he had no idea what most of them looked like. It was also an act of fantasy by Stewart kings who liked to date their lineage back to Scota: the daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh who discovered the infant Moses in a basket on the Nile’s banks.

Also compelling is the tiny supper room, from which, in 1566, David Rizzio, Mary’s Italian secretary and rumoured lover, was dragged and stabbed 56 times while jealous husband, Lord Darnley restrained the queen. A brass plaque remembers.

At A Glance

Canongate, The Royal Mile
Edinburgh EH8 8DX
44 303 123 7306
Adult £12; Over-60/Student £11; Under-17 £7.20
Nov-Mar 9.30am-4.30pm; Apr-Oct 9.30am-6pm

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