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For many visitors the castle means nothing without the Edinburgh Military Tattoo[11] which is taking place at the Castle Esplanade. The esplanade had been a narrow rocky ridge until the middle of the 18th century when the present platform was created as a parade ground.

The signal (Tattoo) indicated that soldiers should return to their quarters and that the beer in the taverns should be turned off. This signal was transmitted by drum beat each evening. Eventually this developed into a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands.

It began when the city held its first International Festival in the summer of 1947. The Army staged an evening military display on the Esplanade. The march and counter-march of the pipes and drums which was held near one of the most dramatic places anywhere in the world made it an immediate success. The Tattoo has been repeated every summer since on the same site. Each Tattoo closes with another tradition- the appearance of the lone piper on the battlements of the castle.

4. St. Giles Cathedral

If Edinburgh Castle has been at the centre of Scottish life for 9 centuries, St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, has been the religious heart of Scotland for even longer.

In 854 there was a church. It belonged to Lindisfarne, where Columbas monks first brought the Gospel from Iona. In 1150, the monks of St. Giles were farming lands round about and a bigger church was built by the end of the century. The first parish church of Edinburgh was dedicated to St. Giles, a saint popular in France. It was probably due to the Auld Alliance of Scotland and France against the common enemy of England.

St GilesCathedral is one of the most historic and romantic buildings in Scotland. Founded in 1100s, this church has witnessed executions, riots and celebrations. Its famous crown spire has dominated Edinburghs skyline for over 500 years. Scotland was a Catholic nation until the Reformation in the mid-16th century.

John Knox[12], the fiery Trumpeter of God, who preached against Popery, brought St. Giles into great prominence. Knoxs aim was to create a reformed Church of Scotland, to banish popery, to strengthen democracy and to set up a system of comprehensive education. The religious transition was to take 130 years of struggle to achieve.

Many of the famous Scots are commemorated in the church, including R. Burns and R. L. Stevenson.

The Giles is famous for its Thistle Chapel, which is home to the Order of the Thistle[13] and honours some of the greatest Scots of the last 300 years. This exquisite little room will take ones breath away. Its magnificent carvings and stonework evoke the ancient origins of the order and will amaze anyone with a wealth of details associated with Scotland, for example, the angel that plays the bagpipe.

5. Edinburghs museums.

In the field of arts, Edinburgh has a host of outstanding attractions for different tastes and interests. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery provides a unique visual history of Scotland, told through portraits of the figures who shaped it: royals and rebels, poets and philosophers, heroes and villains. All the portraits are of Scots, but not all are by Scots. The collection also holds works by great English, European and American masters. Since the Gallery first opened its doors, the collection has grown steadily to form a kaleidoscope of Scottish life and history. Among the most famous portraits are Mary, Queen of Scots, Ramsays portrait of philosopher David Hume, Nasmyths portrait of Robert Burns, and Raeburns Sir Walter Scott. In addition to paintings, it displays sculptures, miniatures, coins, medallions, drawings, watercolours and photographs.

: 29/08/2008