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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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Best Lodging Options Near Parliament House

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The Balmoral Hotel
The Balmoral Hotel

The Balmoral Hotel

1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
     
    5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in New Town, this luxury hotel is steps from Waterloo Place and Princes Street. George Street and Edinburgh Dungeon are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is only a 4-minute walk and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 24 minutes.

    ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile – Hunter Square
    ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile – Hunter Square

    ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile – Hunter Square

    6 Hunter Square, Edinburgh, Scotland
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Old Town, this hotel is steps from City Chambers, Royal Mile, and Princes Street. Real Mary King's Close and St. Giles' Cathedral are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is only a 3-minute walk and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 28 minutes.

      Novotel Edinburgh Centre
      Novotel Edinburgh Centre

      Novotel Edinburgh Centre

      80 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, Scotland
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Old Town, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of The Meadows, Grassmarket, and Royal Mile. University of Edinburgh and Usher Hall are also within 10 minutes. Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 15 minutes by foot and Edinburgh Waverley Station is 17 minutes.

        The Scotsman Hotel
        The Scotsman Hotel

        The Scotsman Hotel

        20 North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Old Town, this boutique hotel is steps from City Art Centre, Princes Street, and Royal Mile. Edinburgh Dungeon and Real Mary King's Close are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is only a 2-minute walk and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 28 minutes.

          Stay Central
          Stay Central

          Stay Central

          139 Cowgate, Edinburgh, Scotland
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Old Town, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Royal Mile, Princes Street, and National Museum of Scotland. University of Edinburgh and National Gallery of Scotland are also within 10 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is 6 minutes by foot and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 22 minutes.

            Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian
            Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian

            Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian

            Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
               
              5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in West End, this luxury hotel is steps from Edinburgh Gin Distillery and Princes Street. George Street and Usher Hall are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 11 minutes by foot and Edinburgh Waverley Station is 17 minutes.

              Princes Street Suites ¥14,866
              Princes Street Suites

              Princes Street Suites

              16 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, Scotland
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Old Town, this luxury apartment building is steps from Waterloo Place and Princes Street. George Street and Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre are also within 10 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is 5 minutes by foot and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 27 minutes.

                Hilton Edinburgh Carlton ¥7,214
                Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

                Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

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

                  Located in Old Town, this eco-friendly hotel is steps from City Art Centre, Princes Street, and Royal Mile. Edinburgh Dungeon and Real Mary King's Close are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is only a 2-minute walk and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 27 minutes.