I grew up in the Presbyterian Church and though I no longer attend service regularly, my mom is fairly involved with the First Presbyterian Church back at home. Therefore, I knew that when going to Edinburgh, I had to stop in at St Giles just for her. St Giles Cathedral is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. It is to Presbyterians, what the Vatican is to many Catholics. It’s absolutely stunning. It’s easily one of the most beautiful churches that I’ve ever been in.
St Giles is the patron saint of Edinburgh. The present church dates from the 14th century, but there have been places of worship on that location for over 900 years. The Cathedral is about 2/3 the way down the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.
It also contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland’s chivalric society of knights chosen by the Queen. The Chapel has just recently opened to the public after a rash of thefts from the historic room caused it to be closed to the public for over a year.
Many regard Knox to be the founding father of the modern Presbyterian church, and John Knox’s final resting place is basically out in a car park outside of , which, let’s be honest is a place that he deserves to be. John Knox turned Protestant reformer and Presbyterian after meeting John Calvin. If you want any proof that Knox was a pretty shitty guy just have a look over “The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women” (basically saying that female leaders are disgusting in the eyes of the Bible). This publication didn’t win him any favours in Scotland ruled by Mary nor England during the reign of Elizabeth.
Entrance to the Cathedral is free, however, if you want to take photos you must pay a £2 donation.
St Giles Cathedral is located at High St, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1RE.