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The Old Town is unquestionably the most interesting quarter of Edinburgh. And the heart of Old Edinburgh is the long and spacious thoroughfare extending from the Castle to Holyrood. Familiarly known as the "Royal Mile," and in various sections called Lawnmarket, High Street, and Canongate, this ancient highway is saturated with history and romance.
Its tall, picturesque "lands" (i.e. tenements), the former mansions of the gentry; its narrow, dark wynds descending steeply to north and to south; its sculptured stones bearing mottoes which breathe the spirit of the old world - all this cannot fail to fascinate.
Starting from the broad plateau at the top of the Castle Hill, which leads to the fortress, the Esplanade, as it is called, was used for drilling the garrison of the Castle, and before that more disturbing scenes were enacted here - the beheading of traitors, real or supposed; the torturing of "heretics"; the burning of witches and wizards.
Strangest of all, this site was declared by royal mandate part of the soil of Nova Scotia, in order that Charles I. might make money by creating batches of "baronets of Nova Scotia."
The Royal Mile is the busiest street for tourists in the Old Town (Princes Street being the busiest in the New Town). It has an eclectic mix of shops and establishments including many restaurants, bars and tourist shops.
Next page: The Castle Hill