The Royal Route

1. Portcullis Gate

Pass through a gateway built almost 450 years ago following the devastation wrought by the Lang Siege. Look up to see a spiked portcullis, raised today to let visitors inside. The top floor was added in the 1880s. Hunt for the carved lions, a symbol of royalty.

2. Castle Timeline

Get a lively overview of the Castle's history in nine illustrated panels. The stories include King David's national assembly, the recapture of the Castle by the nephew of King Robert the Bruce, the birth of King James VI and Bonnie Prince Charlie's siege.

3. Lang Stairs 

Take the direct route to the summit of the Castle Rock, up a great flight of steps that once constituted the original entrance - there is a gentler but longer alternative route around the cobbled hill.

4. Argyle Tower

Step inside the upper floor of the Portcullis Gate. It dates to 1887 but is named after the 9th Earl of Argyll, imprisoned close by before his execution for leading a rebellion against King James VII in 1685.

5. St Margaret's Chapel

Enter the oldest building in the Castle for a brief moment of peace. The chapel was probably built in about 1130 in memory of King David I's mother Queen Margaret, who was later canonised. David held a pioneering assembly of Scotland's nobility and clergy nearby.

6. Mons Meg 

Stare down the barrel of this celebrated siege gun and imagine the power it once unleashed. Given to King James II in 1457, Mons Meg could fire gunstones weighing 150kg for up to 3.2km (two miles) - one was fired over the city in honour of the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots.

7. David's Tower

Descend beneath the Half Moon Battery to a temporary barracks built in the wake of the Lang Siege of 1573 over the ruined remnants of the once colossal David's Tower. The tower was built in the 1370s by David II, son of King Robert the Bruce.

8. Honours of Scotland and Stone of Destiny

Step inside the Crown Room to see the oldest Crown Jewels in the British Isles. The priceless Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543. You can also see the iconic Stone of Destiny, used to inaugurate monarchs for centuries.

9. Royal Apartments

Explore the castle’s royal residence, where monarchs stayed when they sought the safety of this mighty stronghold. Look for the fine fireplaces, the beautifully restored Laich Hall and – above the entrance to the apartments – the gilded initials MAH, for Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley.

10. James VI Birth Chamber

Enter the little room where the future King James VI, first monarch of both Scotland and England, was born in 1566. It is still decorated as it was for his golden jubilee celebrations when he returned to his birthplace in 1617.

11. Great Hall

This impressive hall was completed in 1511 for the state ceremonies of King James IV. You can still see the original hammerbeam roof. There is a remarkable collections of weapons and armour around the walls and Victorian stained glass commemorating Scotland's kings and queens.