Edinburgh at Night: The Dark Side Tour

I am usually not too keen on joining tours, for I like exploring a new city on my own. However, due to the limited amount of time and the fact that The Dark Side Tour sounded promising, T. and I decided to give it a go. 

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At 9 pm - clouds in the sky, quite breezy and just about to rain - it was the perfect atmosphere for getting a different feel for Edinburgh and see another side of it: the slightly darker one. 

We met our guide on the Royal Mile, where we started the free walking tour in the early afternoon.

Anticipated, I can already say that it was not as spooky as we expected it to be but still, we got an idea of Scottish tales, myths and the “not so nice” happenings in former times. 

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After having been told about witch-hunt in Scotland in general and Edinburgh in particular (I wouldn’t have had fun in those Dark Ages), we walked up Calton Hill, one of Edinburgh’s main hills, from where one can overlook the city from different sides. From a staircase, it only takes about 5 minutes, so a quick walk.

This is the view on the old town, which still gives you a slight idea of the medieval times. 

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We were further told about the so-called red caps which were basically invented to scare the children so they read the bible and go to church. The tale goes like this: These “creatures” sit on benches, wearing red caps, having crossed their arms and not showing their faces. Apparently, their fingernails are disgustingly long and sharp. If one comes near them, they look up and make eye-contact with you, they will dash towards the person and cut them open with their long, sharp fingernails (gruesome, I know). Their hats are red because this is the blood of their victims.

Now, the only way to keep those red caps away is by saying a bible verse. Here we go, this is how people way back then made their children read the bible. 

And this was only one of the tales.

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We then walked further up the hill to get a better view. 

In my last blog about Edinburgh, I mentioned that the city is referred to as Athens of the North. This is mainly due to the architectural style - and this National Monument’s resemblance to the Athenian Parthenon. This monument was initiated in 1816 (and not started to be built until 1822) and meant to be a memorial for those having died in the Napoleonic Wars. However, funds were not enough and so the project was never finished. It was then called “Edinburgh’s shame” but now it is a famous landmark and the authorities decided to leave it as it is. 

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Below you can see the Nelson Monument. This was built between 1807 and 1816 to commemorate Admiral Nelson who has fought in the battle of Trafalgar two years before.

On Calton Hill, hundreds of innocent women were burnt at the stake by the church. 

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Our guide (whose name I forgot - whoops) was obviously very passionate about all those stories and historical facts.

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We moved to the other side of the hill and this is the view we were waiting for. It is called “the postcard view” due to the fact that this is the most common picture to be found on Edinburgh postcards, showing a part of the new town. 

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Afterwards, we made our way down to the cemetery. 

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And this was one of the last stops where we learned about prisoners and measures taken against murderers and Co. 

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I really enjoyed this tour, although I would have liked it to be a bit more spooky (I probably shouldn’t say that because if that had been the case, I would have probably … my pants). Nonetheless, for about 7 pounds and two and a half hours of a tour it was well worth it.