Old Town's Royal Mile is an attraction in itself, stretching down the spine of a ridge from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The street bears four names along its length: Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, and Canongate. Walking along, you'll see some of the most interesting old structures in the city, with turrets, gables, and towering chimneys.
For Fans of Mr. Hyde
Not far from Gladstone's Land is Brodie's Close, a stone-floored alley off the Lawnmarket. It was named after the well-respected cabinet-making father of the notorious William Brodie, who was a respectable councilor and deacon of trades by day - but a notorious thief and ne'er-do-well by night. Brodie's apparent split personality (actually he was simply calculating and devious) was possibly part of the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Brodie was finally caught and hanged in 1788. In a final irony, the mechanism used in the hangman's scaffold was perfected by none other than Brodie himself - and he tried to defy its action by secretly wearing a steel collar under his shirt. It didn't work. Across the street from Brodie's Close is one of the more famous pubs along the Royal Mile: Deacon Brodie's Tavern, 435 Lawnmarket (tel. 0131/225-6531).
Canongate Kirkyard & Dunbar's Close
Take a few minutes to get off the well-trodden Royal Mile. Wander about the peaceful graveyard that surrounds the Canongate Church and go into the neighboring walled garden of Dunbar's Close. The kirkyard has views back toward Calton Hill as well as the graves of some notable people, such as David Rizzio confidant to Mary, Queen of Scots, ground-breaking economic philosopher Adam Smith, and 18th-century poet Robert Fergusson, whose headstone was paid for by his more famous admirer, Robert Burns. If you use your imagination, a stop here might evoke the past in a way that museums, audio loops, videos, and tour guides can't do half as well.
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