Canongate is one of the sections of Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile, and is bursting with features of interest that are sometimes overlooked by visitors more focused on the major attractions at either end of the Royal Mile itself. But the Canongate area is well worth taking some time to explore - here are my top five features worth finding time to check out during your visit...
One of the five old graveyards in the city of Edinburgh, the Canongate Kirkyard has a number of burials of interest, as well as offering stunning views up to Calton Hill.
The most significant figure interred in the grounds of the church is Adam Smith, popularly known as the father of modern economics, who lived in the nearby Panmure House whilst writing the book for which he is best known, The Wealth of Nations. This treatise on international trade laid the foundations for the modern global economy, and visitors to his grave often leave small coins of overseas currencies as a fitting tribute to his influence.
Two FREE Museums
On either side of the road near the Canongate Kirkyard are two small council-run museums which offer fascinating insights into Edinburgh's history and culture.
The Museum of Edinburgh occupies buildings dating back to the 1560s, and features a range of exhibits including Greyfriars Bobby's dog collar and bowl, and some of the original wooden water pipes which brought fresh water into the city in the 17th century.
The People's Story is in the old Canongate tolbooth, the former town hall of this settlement, and relates the history of the city through testimony from the people who have lived here over the centuries.
The best preserved of Edinburgh's old lanes and alleys, Bakehouse Close was an old industrial lane which exported bread and cakes into the city of Edinburgh, and was recently used as a filming site for the third season of Outlander, including the location for Jamie's print shop in the series.
Acheson House on the eastern side of the close dates back to 1633 and today houses Edinburgh World Heritage, the body which works with UNESCO to preserve and protect the city' historic features. Look out for the emblem of the Acheson family, carved into the stone above the original main doorway, which also gave a later brothel which occupied the buildings its quirky nickname, the Cock and Trumpet...
Dunbar's Close Garden
Tucked away down a lane just past the Canongate Kirk (as you head down the Royal Mile) is one of Edinburgh's finest hidden gems. The garden here is laid out in the style of the 17th century gardens which would have been found behind the grander houses of Canongate at the height of its popularity.
Dunbar's Close Garden was transformed in the 1970s with funding from a charity called the Mushroom Trust, and today offers a welcome oasis of calm and tranquility just a short step from the chaos of the Royal Mile itself.
Cranachan & Crowdie
One of the finest shops in the whole of Edinburgh, and regularly featuring in 'best of' lists of the city, Cranachan & Crowdie is unique in that all their products are crafted in Scotland. They have a wide range of food and gifts, many from local and artisan producers, and featuring products you won't find in the brashier, more touristy souvenir shops.
From cheese and meat to tea towels and books, they also have a fine range of Scottish gins and a resident shortbread quality control expert in the form of Caley the Australian labradoodle! You can book a short food samples tasting session at Cranachan & Crowdie on my private Edinburgh walking tours.
Explore more of the Canongate's highlights with my private Edinburgh walking tours!
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth Davies, an adopted native of Edinburgh since 1998...