Edinburgh’s old town which dates back as far as the 12th century, retains much of the old world charm from when it was first built. Perched on the top of a ridge of rock which climbs to the Castle, the central street of the old town, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, has had a long and varied history.
One feature of the Royal Mile is the steep and narrow closes which run off the side of the rock. These are still used as shortcuts, homes, offices and hideaways by the city’s residents. With modern sanitation, the closes are now just picturesque reminders of how they might have looked hundreds of years ago – but they smell much nicer!
There are over 70 closes running off the Royal Mile and many hold curious tales and are home to beautiful little squares and gardens. All of them add together to create an interesting snapshot of the city’s past. You can spend a fascinating day, wandering down the hill and checking out each close for its character and hidden surprises.
Some of the more notable include Riddell’s Close, which is fortified and was where James VI once held a grand banquet in 1593. Old Fishmarket Close, which after its fishy history became home to a fire engine! Another is Mary King’s Close which is now underground, having been built over, and is one of the city’s most haunted locations.
Many of the closes were named after their residents. So, not surprisingly, Boswell’s Court is where Dr Johnston and Boswell dined ahead of their famous tour of Scotland and Brodie’s Close is named after the ‘gentleman by day, thief by night’ rascal, Deacon Brodie.
These days many closes house modern facilities and are now simply beautiful places to visit and photograph. Venues such as The Hub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, has a number of closes near to it which have become popular for wedding photography, for instance. For many people, getting married in Edinburgh’s old town must be a romantic and fascinating experience – and to use one of the closes as the backdrop for wedding photography would create stunning and unique pictures.
Close by The Hub is Lady Stair’s Close, which together with its neighbour, Wardrup’s Close which has a stunning blue dragon entrance, creates a charming little square with quirky steps and buildings including the Writers’ Museum. The square is often photographed and featured in pieces about Edinburgh’s Old Town and with its beautiful flagstones and views across the city, it’s no wonder it is used so often as a photographic backdrop.
Another place where the close opens into a photographer’s dream is James Court, just off Castlehill and opposite our venue. This close has housed a range of literary figures in its time within its 17th century tenements and was once one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious addresses. It is now a bright sandstone-lined square with trees and railings that for many people is the ideal location for a romantic photograph.
The old town is one of Scotland’s most atmospheric and fascinating places and with buildings like The Hub perched high above the city, it is a popular place for weddings, meetings and events that are enhanced by being set in such a historic and unique location.