Crossing the World's End junction, you would previously be leaving Edinburgh and entering Canongate, a separate burgh owned by the abbey (and its canons) at Holyrood.
The name Canongate has nothing to do with weapons; it derives from the route taken by the canons of St Giles' as they would walk from their lodgings at Holyrood Abbey - 'the canon's gait' is also reflected in the name of a pub along this stretch of the Royal Mile.
Down here you will find two free museums, the People's Story and the Museum of Edinburgh, both providing a fascinating insight into life in the old city. The People's Story is housed in the distinctive building of the old Canongate tollbooth, built in the sixteenth century. Adjacent to this building, on the north side of the street, is the Canongate Kirk, bearing the royal insignia of Holyrood as it is the Queen's official house of worship when in residence at Holyrood.
In the graveyard of Canongate Kirk you can find the resting places of many famous or influential figures, including Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations and a father of modern economics; Robert Fergusson, a poet who inspired Robert Burns, who is also featured in a statue on the Canongate, immediately outside of the the Canongate Kirk; and Agnes Maclehose, a Glaswegian woman who sustained a correspondence with Robert Burns under the name 'Clarinda', and to whom the poet wrote the poem Ae Fond Kiss. A small cafe a little further down the Canongate, Clarinda's Tearoom, is named for Maclehose.
There any plenty of small and independent shops and cafes to explore on the Canongate, including a year-round Christmas shop!
At the very bottom of the road you'll pass the accumulation of buildings of the Scottish Parliament, designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles, incorporating several original buildings including Queensberry House, former home to the marquises of Queensberry and reputedly haunted by the ghost of a kitchen boy, roasted alive and canibalised on the eve of the signing of the Act of Union in 1707.
Across the roundabout here you can also visit the last (and shortest) street of the Royal Mile, Abbey Strand, which leads up to the ornate gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The building on the south side of the street houses the Queen's Gallery, exhibiting artworks from the royal collection.
Holyroodhouse marks the bottom end of the Royal Mile, just over a mile in distance from Edinburgh Castle.
To explore the Royal Mile in more detail, book my Royal Mile walking tour, or plan a fully customised Edinburgh tour package!
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