Mary King’s Close: an insight into Edinburgh’s hidden streets

Mary King’s Close: an insight into Edinburgh’s hidden streets

Did you know that the City Chambers, formerly the Royal Exchange, on the Royal Mile is built over an underground network of narrow streets where real people lived, worked and died between the 17th and 19th centuries?

The Old Town of Edinburgh is built on a volcanic rock just down from the castle. The main road is the Royal Mile, where a series of lanes and alleyways, called closes, extend out from each side. In order to develop the Old Town within the confines of the city’s defensive barricades, the authorities came up with a solution at the beginning of the 17th century to build tenement housing both upwards to the sky and down through the undergrounds, carving deep streets into the city.

Who could ever have imagined that real underground life would start bustling beneath the city?

Une photo publiée par Roxanna (@roxoid) le

  Later, during the 19th century, with the increasing development of the city through the New Town and with new buildings such as the Royal Exchange, the closes were progressively buried and closed. Nonetheless, some of these alleys have survived almost unchanged through the last 250 years.

Une photo publiée par Stefan (@schtivie23) le


One of them has recently opened to the public: Mary King’s Close. It was the busiest and most vibrant of the closes at that time. Named after the most prominent businesswoman in the fabrics and sewn materials trade in the 1630’s, the close and its neighbours became a famous place which founded the city’s association with myths of plague victims, quarantines and mysterious tales of ghosts and murders.

Discover the true stories of the close with The Real Mary King’s Close attraction which gives tours of the ruins of several remaining underground closes: Mary King’s, Pearson’s, Stewart’s and Allen’s. You can find the entrance through Warriston’s Close and Writer’s Court near the City Chambers.


It is a fascinating insight into everyday life of 17th century Edinburgh!

And if you are fond of ghost stories, don’t miss the paranormal investigation held at Mary King’s close on 26th September 2015.

Edinburgh Loves Anime kicks off Tonight!

Edinburgh Loves Anime kicks off Tonight!

Scotland Loves Anime returns for an eighth year and is crammed with both new and classic films this year!

The Edinburgh weekend runs from the 16th to the 22nd of October at the Filmhouse Cinema and the schedule runs as follows:








13:00 – VENUS WARS


15:30 – MIND GAME

Scotland Loves Animation is a charity promoting animation as art. For the last seven years they’ve been running film festivals, workshops, exhibitions, graduate showcases and other events in Scotland to appeal to all ages and tastes. The annual film festival, Scotland Loves Anime, has become renowned as the UK’s top film festival for Japanese animation.

Further information on the films can be found at

Save money on tickets by booking multiple films:

Ticket Deals

  • Buy tickets for three different films in this season and get 15% off.
  • Buy tickets for six different films in this season and get 25% off.
  • Buy tickets for nine different films in this season and get 35% off.

These packages are available online, in person and on the phone, on both full price and concession tickets. Tickets must all be bought at the same time.

5 Most Haunted Places in Edinburgh

5 Most Haunted Places in Edinburgh

With its grizzly history of battles, grave robbers, serial killers and executions, it’s no wonder that Edinburgh is a hotbed for paranormal activity. It regularly comes top in the list of the UK’s most haunted places and has attracted TV production companies and paranormal specialists from all over the world. With Halloween around the corner, now is the perfect time to explore these spooky places and see for yourself!

1. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

It has been the site of several bloody battles, sieges and executions over its 2,000 year history so it’s no surprise that Edinburgh Castle is one of the most haunted places in the city. There have been reports of unexplained noises such as knocking, drumming and footsteps, as well as sightings of mysterious orbs. In 2001, a team of scientists carried out an investigation into the paranormal activity and their findings appeared to confirm the stories.

2. Banshee Labyrinth

Banshee Labyrinth

Often described as Scotland’s most haunted pub, part of The Banshee Labyrinth is located in some of the city’s underground vaults. It is also rumoured to be occupied by a banshee! The story goes that a group of workmen once heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the depths of the pub and a few hours later one of the men found out that a member of his family had died. There are also reports of drinks flying off tables and smashing into walls.

3. The White Hart Inn

white hart

It is said to be the oldest pub in the centre of Edinburgh with parts of the building dating back to 1516. With so much history, it’s no wonder that patrons and staff have experienced some paranormal activity over the years! Reports of shadowy forms, unexplained banging noises and slamming doors are just some of the incidents attributed to this pub’s spooky reputation.

4. Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

This has been a graveyard since 1562 and is the resting place of numerous notable Edinburgh residents, including poets, historians, architects, inventors and the much-loved Greyfriars Bobby! However, the hauntings are only said to have occurred since the late 1990s when a homeless man broke in to the tomb of Sir George Mackenzie. Since then, there have been reports of visitors leaving with bruises scratches and cuts, leading to rumours of a poltergeist living in the Kirkyard.

5. The Vaults

Edinburgh vaults

There are many ghost tours, which explore the city’s underground vaults, and numerous reports of paranormal activity. A live investigation on the Vaults was carried out by the TV show, Most Haunted in 2006 and it is rumoured that the infamous Burke and Hare stored the bodies of their victims here before selling them to the medical school.

So, if you’re a seasoned ghost hunter or a complete sceptic, make sure you check out these most haunted spots!

All Aboard for Edinburgh’s Most Peculiar Tour

All Aboard for Edinburgh’s Most Peculiar Tour

The Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour is a theatrical sightseeing tour, taking you on a journey around the darker side of Edinburgh. Your creepy conductor shows you the sights onboard a classic 1960s Routemaster bus as you experience the travelling ghost tour of Edinburgh. Learn about witches, grave robbers, plague and of course the ghosts that reside in the most haunted city in Europe. A comedy horror show as you travel around the city, this is the perfect way to see Edinburgh and discover it’s dark and unusual secrets.

This sightseeing bus tour is a journey around Edinburgh’s gruesome past, while seeing the city’s most famous sites, including Edinburgh Castle, The New Town, Grassmarket, Greyfriar’s Kirk, The Old Town, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Mile. The Conductor will show you where the murders, tortures and executions took place – and where certain restless spirits still linger. Hear about Edinburgh’s grisly history, from Burke and Hare to the hundreds of women drowned or burned as witches. There are also surprises onboard the bus – it was indeed once a funeral bus, so it’s not a surprise that the dead may have left an imprint on the vehicle .

Enjoy this spooky ride aboard the only surviving Necropolis Bus. The Necropolis Bus Company began in the 19th century as a private funeral bus service carrying the deceased, pallbearers and mourners to the final resting place. Painted in the traditional midnight black of all the Necropolis Routemaster buses, decorative features include lamps and window curtains. In 1967, the entire fleet was destroyed in a mysterious fire… only one bus survived. Will you?


Tours Depart From

Waverly Bridge

Tours Times

  • Sunday to Thursday 18:00, 19:30
  • Friday and Saturday 18:00, 19:30 and 21:00


  • Adult £16
  • Senior £14
  • Student £14
  • Child (under 15) £12

Additional Information

  • Children aged 15 and under must be accompanied by a paying adult.
  • Travel before 31st August and receive a Free guide book.
  • 1 hour 15 min bus tour
  • Professional actors/guides

Step into Edinburgh’s most haunted places 👻

Step into Edinburgh’s most haunted places 👻

Halloween is approaching as fast as people from Edinburgh died during the dark time when The Black Death (also known as The Plague) spread across the city and killed thousands of its inhabitants, and so we would like to share with you some of the most haunted places in Edinburgh.

White Hart Inn

This old Grassmarket Inn is reputed to be the most haunted pub, not just in Edinburgh but in the whole of Scotland. Public executions used to take place nearby. Sightings of a shadow going to the cellar have been reported and a door down there has been seen to slam shut on occasions. Barrels have been moved and beer taps closed off and when the staff opens them to pour a pint, they find they are switched off again. These incidents and many more have been reported by staff and owners over many, many years.

the white hart inn

A Haunted Underground City

Underneath South Bridge are many vaults and passageways. The bridge was built over Niddry Wynd and its cobbled street still lies under the bridge. In the past, people lived in the vaults and there were even shops underground. You can visit the vaults on a tour and over the years many ghost stories have surfaced. One of the most interesting stories happened early in 2003 when a radio producer was interviewing former rugby star, Norrie Rowan, who owns part of the underground city. On playing the interview back there was a ghostly voice shouting Go Away in Gaelic but no one else had been there at the time.

A number of ghost tours take place in the city’s underground vaults and there have been a various reports of paranormal activity. The TV show, Most Haunted, hosted a live investigation in the vaults in 2006 and, according to some reports, Burke and Hare stored the bodies of their victims in the site before selling them to the medical school.

Edinburgh Vaults

The Banshee Labyrinth

Partially located within some of the city’s many underground vaults, the Banshee Labyrinth describes itself as Scotland’s most haunted pub. It is reportedly occupied by a banshee – a group of workmen once heard a bloodcurdling scream and a few hours later one of them received a call about the death of a family member. There are also said to be occurrences of drinks flying off tables and smashing into walls.

edinburgh valuts

The Missing Piper

Edinburgh has a hidden underworld to which the castle is strongly connected, a series of secret tunnels leading from Edinburgh castle down the Royal Mile. One of these is rumoured to lead to Holyrood House. Holyrood house itself is closely associated with Scotland’s turbulent past, including Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived here between 1561 and 1567. Successive kings and queens have made the Palace of Holyrood house the premier royal residence in Scotland; even today it’s still a royal residence.

When the tunnels were first discovered several hundred years ago, a piper was sent to explore. As he navigated the tunnels he played his bagpipes so that his progress could be tracked by those above. About halfway down the Royal Mile the piping suddenly stopped. When a rescue party was sent, there was no trace of the piper. He had simply vanished. Several search parties went into the tunnel system but no trace of the piper was ever found.

The piper’s ghost still haunts Edinburgh today, walking endlessly along the underground tunnel beneath the Royal Mile. His music can sometimes be heard from within the castle and on the streets above the tunnels.

royal mile night

Edinburgh Castle

It has a history dating back more than 2,000 years and has been the site of numerous battles and sieges so it’s no wonder there are reports of ghostly goings-on at the city’s most iconic landmark. The sound of drums, unexplained knocking sounds, and mysterious orbs have all been reported. In 2001, a team of scientists carried out an investigation into the paranormal experiences at the castle as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival and said the results appeared to support the stories.

Edinburgh Castle Halloween