Take your Edinburgh sightseeing underground with a walk through the mysterious, spooky and fascinating subterranean world that is Mary King’s Close. This warren of streets is where everyday people lived, worked and died in the 17th century – and the real-life stories revealed along the way prove that sometimes truth can indeed be stranger than fiction.
Now hidden beneath the 18th-century City Chambers, Mary King’s Close is Old Town Edinburgh life frozen in time. Costumed character guides based on real-life residents of the Close enrich the tour experience, taking visitors on a journey through a series of alleys, laneways and residences while discovering riveting facts about daily life as well as more chilling tales of plague, murders and ghosts of a time long gone.
One such story is of the little girl Annie, who is said to haunt one of the former bedrooms off the Close – deeply saddened that she had lost her doll. Since her discovery, visitors have been leaving toys for her, which have over time piled up to create a shrine in her honour. Witnessing the site is both heartwarming and eerie in equal measure.
Urban myth also has it that when the plague struck the Close in the 1600s, victims were walled up inside and left to die. From then on, the Close gained the nickname of the ‘street of sorrows’.
The entrance to the concealed Close is situated on Edinburgh’s historic and centrally located Royal Mile, right opposite the Mercat Cross and St Giles’ Cathedral. The thrilling one-hour tours run daily (except Christmas day), commencing every 15 minutes.
Due to popularity, advanced booking is recommended. After emerging from your underground adventure, you may wish to continue walking the Royal Mile to visit two other must-see Edinburgh highlights – the magnificent Edinburgh Castle and the handsome Palace of Holyrood House.