Linlithgow castle is an example of Scottish architecture on an impressive scale. It’s located in Linlithgow, West Lothian and it was once the official residence of the Kings of Scotland during the Middle Ages. In fact, it’s the oldest inhabited castle in all of Scotland and, since 1971, it has been open to the public.
When you visit Linlithgow Palace you can learn a lot about Scottish history as well as get a good look at some impressive architecture. The palace itself dates back to 12th century and one of its most famous occupiers was King James V who ruled from 1513 to 1542. He was married to a French woman named Mary of Guise and they had six children. When King James V passed away, his widow moved out of Linlithgow Palace after being named the Regent for her young son, who later became King James VI. He stayed here occasionally throughout his life and in 1590 he decided to expand the palace and add a new wing that would include a chapel and apartments for him as monarch. While most of the renovation work was finished by 1600, he didn’t move into it until 1611. King James VI was succeeded by his daughter, Queen Mary, after he died in 1625. Unfortunately, she passed away only six years later at the age of 40, leaving her baby son to inherit the throne. This is how Charles I became King of Scotland and England at only 13 years of age.
Mary’s husband Patrick Stuart was appointed as Governor of Scotland during King Charles I’s minority in 1624 and they lived here for nine years until Mary died in 1633. It is believed that while Patrick remained Governor in Scotland for the rest of his life, they were both buried in Westminster Abbey because Patrick was given a title and an estate by Charles I in thanks for his loyal service during his father’s reign.
During the 17th century, Linlithgow Palace fell into considerable disrepair and it was abandoned by royal families. It was used as a prison for a while before being officially purchased by the town council in 1706. While it fell into even more disrepair over the years, many restorations have been done since then and visitors can tour some of the most famous rooms including the grand entrance hall with a ceiling decorated with golden stars and beautiful stained glass windows that depict some of Scotland’s famous saints. In another chapel is the baptismal font that was used for Prince James, son of James IV and Margaret Tudor. The most famous feature of the palace, however, is the magnificent Great Hall that measures 80 feet long and 40 feet high. It is the only part of the palace that remains true to its original design as it no longer functions as a chapel but visitors can tour it to experience its grandeur.
Linlithgow Palace was chosen as one of Scotland’s official residences for the Queen in 1996 and she and her family stayed here for several weeks during their summer vacations in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. While she has been here on many occasions since then, this has been her official residence when visiting Scotland. During the summer of 2002, the Queen even gave a speech to members of the local community from her balcony window and she also hosted a special concert there for her Scottish subjects in 2003. The palace is open to the public for tours in the summer months as well as December and January.
Linlithgow Palace is located in Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland. It is open to the public Monday through Saturday and Sunday from April through September. Tours are available year round Monday through Wednesday only between 11 am and 4 pm with extended hours during the Easter holiday week, July 1-7th, when it is open 9am to 5pm daily.
In December the palace holds a special celebration of Christmas called A Taste of History. It’s a magical candlelit event that includes good food, storytelling by the fireside and costumed characters.
You can also take a stroll through one of West Lothian’s many gardens. The magnificent 15th-century Rosslyn Chapel will also be open to visitors for free tours on the same days that the palace is open for tours.
The palace is located 5 miles southwest of Edinburgh and can easily be reached from several other Scottish cities as well.
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