St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 Reviews

High Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1RE +00 44 (0)131 225 9442

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  • St. Giles' Cathedral
    by elpariente
  • St. Giles' Cathedral
    by elpariente
  • St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh
    St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh
    by antistar
  • EasyMalc's Profile Photo

    A Cathedral without a Bishop

    by EasyMalc Written Mar 16, 2015

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    Hovering over the top half of the High Street is the crown shaped steeple of St. Giles’ Cathedral.
    Technically speaking it’s not a Cathedral at all as there is no Bishop, so officially it’s known as the High Kirk.
    Architecturally, it’s not one of Europe’s outstanding ecclesiastical gems even though it’s been here since 1124. The main reason for that is because what we mostly see today is just a couple of hundred years old after some major restoration in the 19th century.
    That’s not to say that it’s not worth visiting because this is the church where John Knox was minister when he helped bring about the Scottish Reformation during the 16th century.
    It’s also the church where King Charles I decided to introduce the Anglican Book of Common Prayer to the Scots in 1637. Fury erupted and the following year the National Covenant was signed which reminded the King that he may have been the King of Scotland but he was definitely not the head of the Scottish Church. The outcome of his interference led to the English Civil War and ultimately his life when he was executed in Whitehall in 1649.
    The highlight of the church internally has to be the Thistle Chapel, built as a private chapel for the Knights of the Thistle, Scotland’s highest Order of Chivalry. I can’t believe that this remarkable Chapel took only two years to build between 1909 and 1911. It may not be old but the craftsmanship is superb and not to be missed.
    As for the rest of the church I particularly liked some of the more modern stained glass windows such as the North and Robert Burns Windows and it’s also worth checking out the memorials to the Marquis of Montrose and Marquis of Argyll, who both had interesting roles at the time of the National Covenant.
    The Royal Mile has plenty of attractions and distractions but it’s worth finding some time to visit St. Giles. Religion has played an important part in the lives of the Scottish people and St. Giles has played an important part in the history of Scottish religion.

    The Thistle Chapel The North Window John Knox
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    St Giles' Cathedral

    by antistar Updated Nov 26, 2014

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    The highest church in Scotland has had a turbulent history, but has not suffered much damage except for being stripped down during the reformation. At that time it saw the rise of firebrand preacher John Knox, a man who did not mince his words and was not shy in the least in attacking the great and good. While in exile in Frankfurt, then the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, he derided the emperor who sheltered him as an "enemy of Christ".

    Some years later a riot kicked off outside the cathedral, started by a stool being thrown at the minister's head, which indirectly started the English Civil War. The locals objected, unsurprisingly, to having the Scottish Church usurped by the English one at the behest of King Charles I. The moment the minister read from the new Anglican prayer books the fight was on and it didn't really end until King Charles lost his head.

    St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh

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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    St Giles' Cathedral

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Feb 14, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    St Giles' Cathedral or the High Kirk of Edinburgh is the main Church of Scotland. Its distinctive crown steeple is unique and famous.
    The Cathedral located on the way down the Royal Mile and was built for approximately 900 years ago.

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    St Giles Cathedral

    by Drever Written Jan 26, 2014

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    A prominent feature of the Edinburgh skyline, St. Giles' Cathedral with its distinctive hollow-crown tower decorates the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood. St. Giles himself was the patron saint of cripples and lepers, which gives a clue to the antiquity of the church. It has been one of Edinburgh's religious focal points for over 900 years. The oldest parts of the building are four massive central pillars, dating from 1120. Over the years chapels added while enlarging the church has left it irregular in plan. At one time there were fifty altars.

    Today it is the mother church of Presbyterianism and is the historic City Church of Edinburgh. It has uniquely reflected the life and religion of Scotland. On the signing in 1707 of the Treaty of Union to merge the Parliament of Scotland with the Parliament of England, the carilloner in St Giles rang the bells to the tune ‘Why should I be so sad on my wedding day?’

    It was at this church that John Knox, Scotland's equivalent to Martin Luther, preached his sermons on the Reformation in the time of Mary Queen of Scots whose Catholic faith was in opposition to Knox's beliefs. Over the doorway on the way out, there is an angel playing the bagpipes on the right side of the Statue of John Knox.

    Inside gilded and ornately carved memorials honour heroes of past conflicts. Notable monuments include those to James Graham, Marquess of Montrose (1612-50), his enemy Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll (1607-61) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94). The back steps of this ornate church has seen many a man swing from the gallows. The back parking lot is directly over an ancient, and packed burial ground. Plaques embedded in parking spots mark a couple of the more famous bodies that lie beneath the asphalt.

    The exquisite little Thistle Chapel is the chapel of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Scotland's leading Order of Chivalry. Its magnificent carvings and stonework evoke the origins of the Order and amaze with the wealth of details associated with Scotland. It carved and painted fittings have extraordinary detail. The Order founded by James VII in 1687, consists of the monarch and 16 knights. The knights are the personal appointment of the crown, and are normally Scots who have made a significant contribution to national or international affairs. The Chapel honours some of the greatest Scots of the last 300 years.

    The stained glass windows form a continuous story over seven windows. One of the last windows depicts St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, holding his cross. On either side of him are St. Columba and King David. Below are St. Giles and St. Cuthbert.

    The magnificent organ is one of the newest and finest in Europe. It forms part of a tradition of fine music in St Giles' that dates from the middle ages.

    Exterior of St Giles' Cathedral One of the many stained glass windows The exquisite little Thistle Chapel Pipe organ in St Giles Cathedral
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  • elpariente's Profile Photo

    High Kirk of Edinburgh

    by elpariente Updated Nov 11, 2013

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    The cathedral, which should not be called cathedral, it is a Presbyterian Church dedicated to St Giles that is the patron saint of lepers.
    The present church is Gothic style and it was rebuilt on the fifteenth century based in the original church from the twelfth century, but has had other important changes and improvements later
    Here it was ordered John Knox and developed some very important moments of the Reformation of the Church of Scotland
    Inside we can see their windows, the statue of John Koch, an angel playing the bagpipes and the Thistle Chapel , that is worthwhile visit

    La catedral, que no se debería denominar catedral, pues es una Iglesia Presbiteriana, está dedicada a St Giles es el patrón de los leprosos .
    La iglesia actual es de estilo gótico y se reconstruyó el el siglo XV donde estuvo la iglesia original desde el siglo XII , aunque ha tenido otras importantes modificaciones y mejoras posteriormente
    Aquí se ordenó John Knox y se desarrollaron momentos muy importantes del desarrollo de la Reforma de la Iglesia de Escocia
    En el interior podemos ver sus vidrieras, la estatua de John Koch, un ángel tocando la gaita y la Capilla del Cardo que vale la pena visitarla

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  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    St.Giles Cathedral

    by mickeyboy07 Written Dec 12, 2012

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    St.Giles Cathedral properly termed the High Kirk Of Edinburgh,it is the principal place of worship for the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.Its distinctive crown steeple is a prominent feature of the city skyline,at about a third of the way down the Royal Mile which runs from the Castle down to Holyrood Palace.The present church dates from the late 14th century,and is a category A listed building.the Cathedral is dedicated to 'Saint Giles' who is Edinburgh's patron saint.the oldest parts of the building are four massive pillars said to date from 1124,in 1385 the building suffered a fire and was re-built in the subsequent years.Much of the current interior dates from this period.The chapel was built in 1911 to designs by 'Robert Lorimer'.The Cathedral contains a small restaurant and a visitors gift shop.
    Opening times:Mon till Fri:09.00-19.00,Sat:09.99-17.00,Sun:13.00-17.00.

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    The Gothic Giant in the Royal Mile - St. Giles

    by JessH Updated Apr 11, 2012

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    Edinburgh can often be gray and rainy, but there are numerous interesting things to do and see even on wet days: we visited the cathedral on such a day and were quite intrigued by its interiors and history.
    St Giles was built in the early 12th century, and was originally much smaller. Over the centuries more and more altars and chapels were added. As it stands today, its architecture is mostly Gothic and its crown-like spire is an imposing part of Edinburgh's skyline. It is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and is often called the mother church of Presbyterianism. It was named after St Giles, a 7th century abbot who lived in France; probably due to the ancient ties between Scotland and France. His feast day is celebrated on September 1st.

    This is the church the British Royal family attends when in town. After the Reformation, John Knox became St. Giles' first minister and this is where he famously delivered the Presbyterian sermons that drove the Catholic May Queen of Scots into exile.
    It is a gorgeous church and its best part is the Thistle Chapel where deserving individuals are installed into the very distinguished Order of the Thistle by the Queen each year. This lovely little chapel dates from 1911 and was built for "the Knights of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle". It's famous for the amazing detailed wood carvings.

    Another amazing feature of St. Giles are its huge stained glass windows (excuse the poor photo quality... it's difficult snapping windows from inside a dark church, with a gloomy gray cloudy day outside). It also contains hundreds of memorials to distinguished Scots, which I found most interesting (see my photo of some of these plaques on the church's interior wall).

    There is a daily service at noon, and 5 services each Sunday.

    Inside the cathedral you'll also find the St. Giles Cafe, a wonderful little place to enjoy a tea and a scone, other home baked goods or even a full lunch made with the best, locally sourced ingredients. The cafe is open 7 days a week and can be accessed from inside the Cathedral or directly from street level at the back of the building.

    Opening Hours:
    Summer (May-September):
    Monday-Friday 09.00am-07.00pm.
    Saturdays 09.00am-05.00pm.
    Sundays 01.00pm-05.00pm and for services.

    Winter (October-April):
    Monday-Saturday 09.00am-05.00pm.
    Sundays 01.00pm-05.00pm and for services.

    Entrance is free, but the cathedral charges 2 Pounds to take photos inside and donations are welcome. Volunteer guides are on duty each day to welcome visitors, answer questions and conduct guided tours on request.
    *
    Outside the cathedral is the Heart of Midlothian. FOLLOW THIS LINK for my tip about it: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/21e8f4/
    *

    Memorials to famous Scots (St Giles The St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh Stained glass window St Giles, Edinburgh Location Map, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
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    Edinburgh's High Kirk

    by slothtraveller Written Feb 21, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    St Giles Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, seems to get lost a little amongst the Royal Mile's clutter of buildings. It is not big by cathedral standards but still definitely worth visiting. The stained glass windows date from 1870, when William Chambers, Lord Provost of Edinburgh financed a restoration of the cathedral's tired-looking interior.
    Restorations continue to this day and lots of work is in progress to make the cathedral more visitor-friendly.
    Inside the cathedral, you need to buy a photography permit if you want to take photos for personal use. They charge £2 for this, something I personally do not agree with. Admission is free, although a donation is encouraged. As St Giles is a working church, your trip may be disrupted by a service so be aware that you may have to work around this.

    St Giles Cathedral
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    St Giles' Cathedral

    by TomorrowsAngel Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    St Giles' Cathedral is the High Kirk of Edinburgh, and has been at the heart of the city's spiritual life for at least 900 years. A living church with an active congregation, it is also host to around a quarter of a million visitors every year, who come to experience its unique atmosphere of continuing worship and ages-old history.

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  • littlesam1's Profile Photo

    St. Giles Cathedral

    by littlesam1 Written Apr 5, 2009

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    St. Giles Cathedral has a lot of history. Its dates back to the 15th century. It is here that John Knox brought the Protestant Reformation to Scotland. It is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and is often called the mother church of world presbyterianism. We took some time to explore the inside of this beautiful church. We visited the historic Thistle Chapel and took some time to admire the art work through out the Cathedral.

    St. Giles Cathedral

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    Go Cathedral

    by marinarena Written Mar 23, 2008

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    As most major European cities, Edinburgh has beautiful gothic cathedrals. The famed one to highlight is St. Giles or High Kirk, located along the Royal Mile. I didn't have enough time to tour some within St Giles nor others in Scotland but did appreciate the view from the streets.

    Info on St Giles...

    Hours are:
    Summer (May-September)
    Monday - Friday 09.00-19.00
    Saturday 09.00-17.00
    Sunday 13.00-17.00 and for services

    Winter (October-April)
    Monday - Saturday 09.00-17.00
    Sunday 13.00-17.00 and for services

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  • stevemt's Profile Photo

    A place to come and reflect

    by stevemt Updated Jul 23, 2007

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    St. Giles' Cathedral or the High Kirk of Edinburgh is a Church of Scotland place of worship decorating the midpoint of the Royal Mile with its highly distinctive hollow-crown tower. The church has been one of Edinburgh's religious focal points for approximately 900 years. Today it is sometimes regarded as the mother church of Presbyterianism.

    I found the cathedral to be somewhat austere, but that is a trait of Presbyterianism in general I have always found.

    It is however a beautiful buiilding and well worth the visit.

    From the front
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    St Giles Cathedral

    by himalia11 Written Jul 5, 2007

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    The gothic church St Giles is located in Parliament Square at the Royal Mile. The church has very nice glass windows, but what I found most interesting was that the altar is in the middle. That's rather unusual.
    The church is also well-known as the reformation of the Church of Scotland in the 16th century has been started from here, by John Knox. If you are interested in John Knox and the reformation you can visit the musuem in the John Knox House which is also located at the Royal Mile.

    The church is free, but donations are welcome.

    St Giles Cathedral
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  • dila's Profile Photo

    Thistle Chapel

    by dila Updated Oct 27, 2006

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    I must say that i never have seen something like this before. it is very small but special to see.
    It is inside the St Giles Cathedral entrance is 1 pound.
    more pictures at travelogue
    Opening Times

    Summer (May-September)
    Monday - Friday 09.00-19.00
    Saturday 09.00-17.00
    Sunday 13.00-17.00 and for services

    Winter (October-April)
    Monday - Saturday 09.00-17.00
    Sunday 13.00-17.00 and for services

    closed 25, 26 dec and 1 , 2 january

    Dean's Chair Angel lamps casts are from bronze Angel holding a symbol for Faith Angel holding a symbol for Hope Glass Window
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  • dila's Profile Photo

    St Giles Cathedral

    by dila Written Oct 27, 2006

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    This Cathedral is worth a visite. The entrance is for free except you have to pay 1 pound to make pictures and another pound for the Thistle Chapel.
    The volunteers are very friendly and helpfull. did get more info than i could handle but it was very intresting.
    Opening Times

    Summer (May-September)
    Monday - Friday 09.00-19.00
    Saturday 09.00-17.00
    Sunday 13.00-17.00 and for services

    Winter (October-April)
    Monday - Saturday 09.00-17.00
    Sunday 13.00-17.00 and for services

    closed 25th-26th December and 1st-2nd January
    more pictures at travelogue

    St Giles Cathedral glass window last supper glass window crusafixion glass window glass window of montrose clans
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