Ancient castles, battlefields and national heroes
How many historic heroes and legends can you encounter in a visit to Stirling? Rather a lot, for this ancient old town is home to some of Scotland’s most epic events, and the captivating stage for some of the nation’s most romantic, most courageous, most memorable figures.
Absolute must-do’s include the glorious Stirling Castle with its Royal Palace – the fabled walls steeped in plotting and intrigue – as well as the Chapel Royal, the Regimental Museum and loads for younger visitors. From its rocky eyrie, this imposing fortress rewards your stroll up Stirling town’s cobbled main street with spectacular views over beautiful Stirlingshire countryside.
A little beyond the castle walls stands the 17th century Argyll’s Lodging, finest townhouse of its kind in Scotland. Created as the home of a nobleman in the Royal Court, this remarkable building boasts grand rooms, exquisite artwork and fine period furniture as well as evocative recreated kitchens.
The Church of the Holy Rude
Also close to the castle is another jewel in the city’s crown: The Church of the Holy Rude. Founded in the 12th century, and the second oldest building in Stirling, the Church commands a splendid location on the city’s highest hill and was the setting for the coronation of James VI in 1567, in a ceremony performed by revolutionary theologian John Knox. Here you genuinely tread in the footsteps of history and history-makers, in this invitingly walkable city.
Battle of Bannockburn Experience
To ramp up the action you can immerse yourself in the Battle of Bannockburn Experience. Thanks to advanced 3D technology you’ll feel you’re in the thick of medieval combat on the momentous day when king fought king and Robert the Bruce changed the course of Scottish history.
Drive through reserves and get up close to camels, zebras, rhinos, ankole cattle, deer and not forgetting every ones favourite – the lions! With a programme of events throughout the year, an adventure playground and many food and drink outlets, it’s the perfect way to have a great day out with the family.
National Wallace Monument
To complement Bannockburn with memories of another inspirational Scottish hero, visit the landmark National Wallace Monument, which is worth the visit for the views alone, from the top of the tower. Don’t miss the Hall of Heroes and the iconic Wallace Sword.
Old Town Jail
From 1st July through 10th September, Stirling unlocks another of its key attractions: the Old Town Jail. Here you can gasp, gulp and gape at tales of the horrible history of crime and punishment in the Royal Burgh of Stirling. You’ll hear of infamous executioner Jock “The Happy Hangman” Rankin, along with murderers, martyrs and more. The popular and much praised performance tours make your time in jail even more vivid.
Smith Art Gallery & Museum
Once you escape the jail, why not take in something every bit as fascinating but a little more relaxed, elegant and stylish, such as the Smith Art Gallery & Museum. The treasury of objects and paintings all reflect the culture of the town and the county – any visit to Stirling is enriched by time spent here, surrounded by portraits of Bonnie Prince Charlie, William Wallace and other notable figures, and astonishing artefacts such as the oldest football (from 1540) and oldest curling stone (1511) on the planet. ‘The Smith’ provides an ideal place to take a break – the Gallery Café will make you most welcome, and there are plenty of picnic spots in the two acres of grounds.
Stirling City Pass
To help you make the most of your stay, Stirling offers the City Pass, a sightseeing card that entitles you to free entry to the town’s major attractions plus helpful extras such as fast-track entry, free audio tours and more than £50 in local discounts. Each City Pass comes with complimentary official guide book and map, and can be purchased online and at the Old Town Jail. At £25 for adults and £14.95 for a child (age 5 to 16), you can have the very best of Stirling in your pocket. Visit the website to buy online and find out more information.