Palace of Holyroodhouse
Palace of Holyroodhouse

Founded as a monastery in 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is The Queen's official residence in Scotland. Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is closely associated with Scotland's turbulent past, including Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived here between 1561 and 1567. Successive kings and queens have made the Palace of Holyroodhouse the premier royal residence in Scotland.

Today, the Palace is the setting for State ceremonies and official entertaining. During The Queen's Holyrood week, which usually runs from the end of June to the beginning of July, Her Majesty carries out a wide range of official engagements in Scotland.

The Investiture held in the Great Gallery is for Scottish residents whose achievements have been recognised in the twice-yearly Honours List which appears at New Year and on The Queen's Official Birthday in June.

King George V and Queen Mary held the first garden party in the grounds of Holyroodhouse and the tradition has been maintained to the present day. Each year, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh entertain around 8,000 guests from all walks of Scottish life during Holyrood week.

History of Palace of Holyroodhouse

In 1128, the Palace was founded as an Augustinian monastery by David I of Scotland. It is believed he saw a cross (known as a rood) which belonged to his mother; materialize in the antlers of a stag that was charging at him. In 1501, James IV built a palace near the Abbey for his new bride Margaret Tudor. Even though Edinburgh was the royal residence, the Abbey property became the preferred location because of its woodland setting.

One of the most famous residents was Mary Queen of Scots whose husband killed her secretary David Rizzio because he believed they were having an affair. Oliver Cromwell’s troops stayed at the palace during the Civil War and destroyed it. When monarchy was restored in 1660, Charles II began extensive renovations and expansion of living quarters. At the beginning of the 18th century when the Union of Parliaments took place, Holyroodhouse fell into neglect and became the residence of many noblemen who lost their position.

The roof of the Abbey collapsed in 1768 and the ruins still stand today. Extensive renovations to the palace began in 1822 by King George IV with the insistence that the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots be untouched. Queen Victoria decided to revive the custom of the royal family staying at Holyroodhouse when on business in Scotland so it became and it still remains the official royal residence in Scotland. Today, the palace is used for official state ceremonies and entertaining.

What to See at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Visitors enter the palace at the entrance to the Great Stair which features exquisite tapestries. Next on the tour is the Royal Dining Room with beautiful and rich place settings. The Throne Room was the site of the coronation of King George IV who was instrumental in preserving many of the rooms in the palace.

Most impressive are the State Apartments featuring the rooms (including her bed) and personal belongings of Mary Queen of Scots. There are separate rooms for her husband, Lord Darnley. Visitors are able to see a wide selection of antiques, paintings and tapestries. The rooms are decorated with rich paneling and ornate plaster detailing. The Royal Apartments which are currently used by the royal family are not open to the public.

In the spacious Picture Gallery, the walls are lined with 110 portraits of former Scottish monarchs. Many of these pictures date back to the 17th century. More recently, the Queens Gallery was opened and it features changing exhibits of art from the private royal collection.

On the palace grounds, visitors can see the ruins of the Abbey which was the first structure built on the site. The gardens are professionally landscaped and maintained for the Queen’s garden parties.

Holirudhaus palace.
Holirudhaus Palace (Palace of Holyroodhouse), who was once a place of conspiracy, murder and political intrigue, now serves as the official residence of the Queen. It is situated at the very end of the medieval cobbled Royal Mile (Royal Mile), the main street leading to Edinburgh Castle. Here Mary Queen of Scots spent the darkest days of her life, her tragic fate, and to this day does not leave anyone indifferent. It was in the palace Holirudhaus in front of a pregnant queen ordered her husband Lord Darnley was murdered her Italian secretary David Riccio. Today it exposed a lot of personal things Scottish queen, including those that belonged to Mary Queen of Scots shortly before her early death in custody.

Holyroodhouse Visitor Information

Opening hours

  • The Palace is open daily from 1 April to 31 October
  • 09:30-18:00
  • 1 November - 31 March 09:30-16:30
  • 24 December 09:30-14:00
  • 31 December 09:00-15:00

The last admission is 60 minutes before closing.

The Palace is closed on 25 and 26 December and during Royal Visits

Admission prices

Palace of Holyroodhouse (includes an audio tour)

  • Adult £9.50
  • Over 60/Student (with valid ID) £8.50
  • Under 17 £5.50
  • Under 5 Free
  • Family (2 adults, 3 under 17s) £24.50

Joint Palace of Holyroodhouse and The Queen's Gallery

  • Adult £13.00
  • Over 60/Student (with valid ID) £11.50
  • Under 17 £7.50
  • Under 5 Free
  • Family (2 adults, 3 under 17s) £33.50

Visitors with disabilities: The rooms associated with Mary Queen of Scots are accessed via a narrow, spiral staircase consisting of 25 steps. Regrettably, these rooms are not accessible to wheelchair-users.

When possible, the Palace and The Queen’s Gallery will also offer parking for visitors with disabilities.