The Palace of Holyroodhouse is entered through a magnificent pair of 20th century wrought iron gates, a short drive takes you to the palace, which is the Scottish official residence of the reigning monarch.
The building is situated at the end of Edinburgh's "Royal Mile" it's history is long and turbulent, despite originating as a peaceful monastery early in the 12th century.
Many colourful Royal personages from the past lived at Holyrood, these include James IV of Scotland, who built the north-west tower in 1501, and later Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived here between 1561 and 1567. Mary was twice married at Holyrood Abbey and it was in the palace that she watched as her jealous second husband, Lord Darnley, murdered her secretary Rizzio. At the time of the 1745 uprising, Holyroodhouse Palace acted as headquarters for Bonnie Prince Charlie.
In 1650 Cromwell's troops occupied the palace, during their tenure much damage was caused to the building, but this was made good when Charles II was restored to the thrones of England and Scotland. Sir William Bruce was appointed architect and major reconstruction work was begun in 1671, it was to be eight years before the building was complete and the restoration included the south-west tower built to match that of James IV, and the apartments behind the west facade.
In more recent times King George V and Queen Mary had the throne room and state rooms renovated and redecorated, they also refurnished them with Scottish period furniture and further enhanced the rooms with tapestries and paintings of Scottish kings and queens.
Today, this magnificent building nestling against the backdrop of Arthur's Seat provides the setting for Scottish State ceremonies and official entertaining by the Sovereign. The Royal apartments are used frequently by the Queen and members of her family.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is open to the public, during the tour visitors can see the State Apartments, renowned for lavish furnishings, fine plaster-work ceilings and an amazing display of Brussels tapestries. The most spectacular room is perhaps the Great Gallery, this is hung with Jacob de Wet's paintings of the real and legendry monarchs of Scotland.
The Queens Gallery features a changing programme of exhibits from the Royal Collection.
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