Mary King's Close
The Real Mary King's Close is one of Edinburgh's top tourist attractions and part of the so-called 'town underground'. It's situated just off the old town's Royal Mile at the top of Warriston Close - if you plan to walk up Warriston Close from Cockburn Street it's a lot of steps!
The entrance to Mary King's Close is easy to miss - visitors often walk right past it! It's a small, not very well signposted opening on the north side of the High Street opposite the east end of St Giles Cathedral.
The name often confuses people: many people think of Mary Queen of Scots and ask why is it called Mary King's Close? The answer is that it is named after a woman called Mary King, who was (as far as we know) no connection to royalty.
What Is Mary King's Close?
Mary King's Close is an old close dating back to the 17th century. Most of the street was covered over in the mid 18th century due to the building of the Royal Exchange and the lower half was destroyed during the building of Cockburn Street a hundred years later. Despite that people continued to live there, the last not leaving until 1902!
Part of the underground street is preserved and visitors are taken on a guided tour lasting about one hour. During this they are told about the history and get a feel for what life must have been like in old Edinburgh. There are also, of course, one or two spooky ghost stories.
Times and Price
At the time of writing (May 2015) Mary King's Close is operated by Continuum. It's open daily from 10am with last tours starting at 9pm every day during the summer season (until end October). Entrance costs £13.95 for an adult, £8.25 for a child with a family ticket (2 adults 2 children) available for £37.75.
Mary King's Close gets very busy during the summer months, especially during August, so pre-booking is advised.