The Real Mary King's Close, Edinburgh, Scotland
The Real Mary King's Close visitor attraction in Edinburgh, Scotland
By TTM on 03 September 2008 in Destination Guides
The Real Mary King's Close
Hidden beneath the Royale Mile, lies one of Edinburgh's deepest secrets - The Realy Mary Kings Close. This warren of hidden 'closes' or narrow streets where real people lived, worked and died, lay forgotten and covered by the City Chambers of the Royal Mile for centuries, until in 2003 it opened as a fascinating visitor attraction for Edinburgh.
Now an award-winning, Scottish Tourist Board accredited five-star attraction. The Real May King's Close allows visitors to step back in time and be guided through these famous underground closes to witness some of the most dramatic episodes from Edinburgh's incredible past. A unique and historic site, it is a dark, underground time capsule, thought by many visitors to be haunted by its former inhabitants. In spite of this, the attraction's aim is to reveal the very real history connected to the site's amazing past.
It consists of a network of four streets below the Royal Mile, containing the remains of original town houses and rooms, spanning four centuries of history dating back to the 1500s. These narrow streets, with houses originally built up to seven storeys high, were used as the foundations fo the Royal Exchange (now the City Chambers) when it was built directly over the top of the streets in 1753 burying them for over two centuries.
Today costumed character guides bring to life the many real stories behind the Closes, revealing the fascinating twists and turns of past lives, as they tour visitors arond the underground streets, giving a glimpse of life from the 16th to the 19th centuries. You are taken back in time to experience the home of a grave digger whose family were struck down by the 'black death'. the work shop of the saw-maker Andrew Chesney, who was the last resident to leave the street, and the home of the famous Close's namesake, an affluent widow and merchant seamstress called Mary King.
Visitors also get the chance to visit the 'Shrine Room', in one of the best examples of a 17th century Edinburgh townhouse, where you will see the colourful pile of toys left for the wee 'ghost' girle annie, who used to live there. She suffered from the plague and is believed to have been left heartboken when she lost here favourite doll. Generous visitors have left tens of thousands of pounds, dolls and toys for little Annie, which are every year donated to the Sick Kid's Friends' Foundation at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh.
Open: Daily (not Chistmas Day) with tours departing evey 20 minutes from 10am to 9pm. In August it opens at 9am to 9pm.
Admission: Adults £9.50, Kids £6.00, Concessions £8.50
Pre-booking is strongly recommended due to demand
Real Marys Close
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