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Edinburgh Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile, at the west end of Edinburgh's Old Town. The volcanic Castle Rock offers a naturally defended position, with sheer cliffs to north and south, and a steep ascent from the west. The only easy approach is from the town to the east, and the castle's defences are situated accordingly, with a series of gates protecting the route to the summit of the Castle Rock.
A Esplanade · B Gatehouse · C Ticket office · D Portcullis Gate & Argyle Tower · E Argyle Battery · F Mills Mount Battery & One o'Clock Gun · G Cartsheds · H Western Defences · I Hospital ·J Butts Battery · K Scottish National War Museum · LGovernors House · M New Barracks · N Military Prison · ORoyal Scots Museum · P Foog's Gate · Q Reservoirs · R Mons Meg · S Pet Cemetery · T St. Margaret's Chapel · U Half Moon Battery · V Crown Square · W Royal Palace · X Great Hall · YQueen Anne Building · Z Scottish National War Memorial
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear.
There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
From the 15th century the castle's residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison.
Its importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half.
As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world".
Few of the present buildings pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th century, when the medieval defences were largely destroyed by artillery bombardment. The most notable exceptions are St Margaret’s Chapel from the early 12th century, which is regarded as the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Royal Palace and the early-16th-century Great Hall, although the interiors have been much altered from the mid-Victorian period onwards.
The castle also houses the Scottish regalia, known as the Honors of Scotland and is the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum if Scotland. The British Army is still responsible for some parts of the castle, although its presence is now largely ceremonial and administrative. Some of the castle buildings house regimental museums which contribute to its presentation as a tourist attraction.
The castle, in the care of Historic Scotland is Scotland's most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 1.4 million visitors in 2013. As the backdrop to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo during the annual Edinburgh International Festival the castle has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh and of Scotland and indeed, it is Edinburgh's most frequently visited visitor attraction - according to the Edinburgh Visitor Survey, more than 70% of leisure visitors to Edinburgh visited the castle.
One O'Clock Gun The One O'Clock Gun is a time signal, fired every day at precisely 13:00, excepting Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day. The 'Time Gun' was established in 1861 as a time signal for ships in the harbour of Leith and the Firth of Forth, 2 miles (3 km) away. It complemented the ‘Time Ball', which was installed on the Nelson Monument in 1852, but was useless as a visual signal in foggy weather. Because sound travels relatively slowly (approximately 343 metres per second (770 mph)), a map was produced in 1861 to show the actual time when the sound of the gun would be heard at various locations across Edinburgh.
Military Tattoo A series of performances known as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo (since 2010 the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo) takes place on the Esplanade each year during August. The basis of each performance is a parade of the massed pipes and drums of the Scottish regiments, and since its inception in 1950 the Tattoo has developed a complex format which includes a variety of performers invited from around the world, although still with a largely military focus.
The climax of the evening is the lone piper on the castle battlements, playing a pibroch in memory of dead comrades-in-arms, followed by massed bands joining in a medley of traditional Scottish tunes. The Tattoo attracts an annual audience of around 217,000 people, and is broadcast in some 30 countries to a television audience estimated at 100 million.
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