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Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of Scotland's capital city. It sits on the aptly-named Castle Rock, a volcanic rock that was was formed around 340 million BC; the first archaeological evidence of human settlements stretch back to 900 BC.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The castle complex is now part of the World Heritage-listed Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, which was inducted onto the UNESCO list in 1995. The medieval fortress alongside the rest of the Old Town architecture juxtaposes nicely with the neoclassical New Town, making Edinburgh one of the most scenic capitals in Europe.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The entire castle complex, which is divided into three distinct wards, is chockablock with Scottish symbols, from the iconic Celtic cross outside the main gates (left) to the subtle stain glass of St. Margaret's Chapel, the oldest building in the castle—and all of Edinburgh.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Most of the cannon now on display throughout the castle date back to Napoleonic times, and have never been fired. But a considerably more modern L118 Light Gun fires at 1 o'clock daily (save Sundays, Christmas, and Good Friday), a tradition that's been held since 1861 and silenced only during World Wars I and II.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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In addition to serving as the cornerstone of Scotland's history, Edinburgh Castle is also one of the best places to see the city. The elevation and unblemished horizon affords spectacular views of the surrounding area.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Statues of William Wallace (left), who led the resistance during the War of Scottish Independence, and Justice (right), some of the many icons constructed throughout the castle.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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One wall of the Great Hall is dominated by stained-glass crests. The building, which sits in the castle's Upper Ward section, served as the chief place of state assembly.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The crests symbolize Scotland's individual clans.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Crests originate in medieval European traditions of heraldic symbolism, where the graphics were used as a way to recognize individuals, typically on the battle field.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The Scotch Whisky Experience, which sits just outside the main castle gates, offers a unique take on learning about the country's famed distilling methods. You hop in a barrel and ride through the process as if you're a drop of water. The high-tech ride is followed by a tasting staged in a room that houses the Claive Vidiz Collection—the world's largest collection of whisky, with more than 3,384 bottles.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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While the castle is not the sole attraction in Edinburgh—a cosmopolitan city that also boasts high-end shopping, dining, and art—the structure is visible from most tourist locations. Here it looms behind the Royal Scot Greys Monument opposite Frederick Street in Prince Street Gardens.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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You'll also find the Victorian Gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott in Prince Street Garden. The Scottish author penned such classics as Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, and The Lady of the Lake.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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This is another part of the historic center of Edinburgh Old Town, which is mostly separated from the New Town (to the north) by Princess Street Gardens. The more contemporary West End—largely considered the city's cultural center—is also part of the UNESCO's World Heritage designation.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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