Edinburgh is a beautiful city rich with history. Sometimes that history can be morbid yet fascinating. And it is excellently exploited in the ghost tours that happen nightly in the city. These aren’t just any ghost tours either – they take you into parts of the city that you would never be able to visit otherwise.
The tour starts in the city center, with the guide acting out scenes of public executions that once took place regularly in the old town square on the Royal Mile. Then, after wandering through a few narrow streets and hearing ghost stories, you head beneath the city to ancient vaults located under North Street. These vaults used to house the underclasses of Edinburgh – people who were on the fringes of society lived, worked, and died here. The vaults were sealed and forgotten for centuries, until they were uncovered in the 1990’s. There are many stories of the vaults being haunted by the spirits of those poor souls who eked out their existence there hundreds of years ago. I don’t know that I believe those stories, but the vaults do have an eerie quality – I certainly wouldn’t want to be left down there alone!
There is also a competing company’s tour that takes you into the famous Mary King’s Close. This underground close (street) is known for its gruesome history. During an outbreak of the plague, the close was sealed off to quarantine victims of the Black Death. Sadly, many people died in those narrow underground spaces after the close was shut. You can feel the oppressive nature of this history while you are in the dark, cramped close during the tour.
Even though I lived in Edinburgh for a year and got to know the city very well, I can appreciate that the tour added a new dimension to my understanding of the city, as touristy as a ghost tour may seem. I definitely recommend booking one for your next trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.