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Parliament House

Edinburgh’s original parliament building is often missed by most tourists, but it’s well worth a visit for the art and architecture. 

As you travel through the streets of The Royal Mile and its narrow alleyways take a slight detour and step into Parliament Square, next to St. Giles’ Cathedral. On one side of the square is Parliament House, home of the Scottish Parliament from 1639 to 1707.

Following the union of England and Scotland in 1707, Parliament was dissolved and the politicians moved to London. Today, this grand building houses the Supreme Courts of Scotland.

Amble around Parliament Hall to see the lawyers when they’re not in court. You will usually see them pacing up and down the ancient hall in their wigs and gowns. This cavernous room used to be the chamber where politicians discussed affairs of state.

Look up at the hammer-beam ceiling made of Danish oak. It’s one of the few surviving internal structures of this early 17th-century building.

Watch for some of the hall’s other standout features such as the Great South Window. This is a stained-glass depiction of the inauguration of the College of Justice and the Court of Session by King James V in 1532.

Examine the statues dotted around the hall. They include the marble statue of Duncan Forbes, a politician and judge, captured in mid-gesture. You can also see a number of portraits of 18th- and 19th-century lawyers.

The courtrooms are open to the public, but primarily they hear civil cases. Criminal trials take place in the High Court.

Parliament House is located on Parliament Square in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Parking is limited but buses service the area. As Parliament House is a working court building, visitors’ bags are subject to a search. The building is open year-round.


Guide to Exploring around Parliament House


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Apex Grassmarket Hotel $132
Reviewed on Jun 12, 2019
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Apex Grassmarket Hotel

Apex Grassmarket Hotel

31-35 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, Scotland
     
    4.3 of 5
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    This hotel is in an amazing location. There are all sorts of pubs and shops nearby, plus an awesome view of the castle. The hotel itself was wonderful, also. Staff were extremely friendly, they even helped us check in early when our flight had arrived early in the morning after many hours of travel. ...

    Jurys Inn Edinburgh $103
    Reviewed on May 21, 2019
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    Jurys Inn Edinburgh

    Jurys Inn Edinburgh

    43 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
       
      3.9 of 5
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      Close to transport and shops and many tourist attractions.

      Principal Edinburgh George Street $164
      Reviewed on Jun 12, 2019
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      Principal Edinburgh George Street

      Principal Edinburgh George Street

      19-21 George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
         
        4.5 of 5
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Perfectly located in the city, easy to walk to everything. Staff was overly accommodating, always friendly, room was small but absolutely amazing view of Leith and the water. Would definitely stay again.

        Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre $170
        Reviewed on Jun 8, 2019
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        Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre

        Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre

        80 High Street The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
           
          4.5 of 5
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          Location, room with a fabulous view, very spacious and a comfy bed.

          Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel $104
          Reviewed on Jun 12, 2019
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          Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel

          Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel

          61 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, Scotland
             
            4.4 of 5
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            The hotel was extremely convenient to all the sights we wanted to see and to the train station for the day trips we took! The staff was friendly and when we had an issue with the thermostat, they promptly took care of it!

            Hilton Edinburgh Carlton $142
            Reviewed on Jun 9, 2019
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            Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

            Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

            19 North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland
               
              4.2 of 5
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Excellent location and facilities.Service was great. We enjoyed our stay very much.

              ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge - Royal Mile $111
              Reviewed on Jun 14, 2019
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              ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge - Royal Mile

              ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge - Royal Mile

              77 South Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland
                 
                4.2 of 5
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                This hotel doesn't have in room telephones, making it difficult to connect with fellow travelers who didn't have roaming data plans. Staff was fine, room as a whole was fine.

                Motel One Edinburgh-Royal $120
                Reviewed on Jun 8, 2019
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                Motel One Edinburgh-Royal

                Motel One Edinburgh-Royal

                18-21 Market Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
                   
                  4.4 of 5
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                  Walking distance to everything, tour buses, station, shops, cafes pubs and restaurants