Travel UK

Travel || St Giles Cathedral and Thistle Chapel

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. 

st giles cathedral
inside st giles
me in st giles
stained glass
blue roofblue roof continuedaltar
lighting candle
thistle chapel
details in thistle chapel
roof in thistle chapel

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.

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  • This is too cool – no, cool isn’t the word for it. Sublime?

  • 1582818487


  • Edinburgh is such a gorgeous city! I’ve never visited this cathedral, it’s beautiful. On my list for next time! x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

  • nice photos! I remember how much I admired the chapel

  • Fantastic pictures!
    When we went to Edinburgh for Hogmonay, we attended a candlelight concert in St Giles Cathedral. It was amazing!

    • That sounds like an incredible experience! I’d love to go for Hogmanay one year – Sam’s been before, but not me 🙂 xx

      • Oh yes, you definitely should! Hogmanay in Edinburgh is a must-do life experience!

  • I feel like I’ve really learnt something reading this post! I adore looking at ornate stained glass windows.
    Bee |

  • Wow it’s beautiful, I love looking around old churches, each one is wonderfully different! Alice xx

  • When Jon and I visited there was a concert going on. UNBELIEVABLE. We sat there for a good hour just listening and looking up!

  • i love all your edinburgh posts and photos! it’s my favourite city i’ve been to and these are making me miss it so much, haha! xxx

  • Miu

    The church is quite impressive! I read your sentences and realised I have no idea what the Presbyterian Church is O.O

    • Just one of the many random branches of Protestantism. You’re not missing much ; ) xx

      • Miu

        I read about it afterwards in Wikipedia and I found it funny how he was against female leaders when he was surrounded by female leaders 😉

  • I only recently visited St Giles Cathedral despite living 5 minutes away for 5 months haha it’s a pretty impressive cathedral. I’d love to do a tour that goes up the tower – apparently it’s great!x