1. Sacred Destinations
  2. Scotland
  3. Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh's beautiful Old Town at sunset. Photo Creative Commons License Ocumare.

Edinburgh ("ED-in-bur-ah") is the second largest city in Scotland after Glasgow and is the country's capital. Its name is probably derived from the Gaelic Dun-Edin, meaning "the fort on the slope." The name remains highly appropriate, as the fortified walls of Edinburgh Castle still dominate the skyline of the city. The Old Town grew up around the base of the castle in a maze of tenements that still stand today. The elegant squares and crescents of the New Town were added in the 18th century.

Like many large and important cities, Edinburgh has played a significant role in religious history. The most well-known religious figure associated with Edinburgh is the Calvinist preacher John Knox, who studied in Geneva and then spread the Reformation in Scotland. John Knox preached his first sermon in Edinburgh's St. Giles' Cathedral, a statue of him stands in the courtyard of the University of Edinburgh's Faculty of Divinity, and the "John Knox House" (where he probably never lived) can be toured on the Royal Mile. In the 18th century, Edinburgh was a major center of the Enlightenment, most notably as the home of David Hume.

Today, Edinburgh is the second most popular tourist destination in Great Britain following London, and it's not hard to see why. Compact and tidy, it is more of a big town than a small city. It has a population of about 500,000 residents but receives as many as 13 million visitors each year.


  • Edinburgh Map Our detailed, interactive city map of Edinburgh, showing the location of sacred sites and religious attractions.
  • Edinburgh Photos Our galleries of hand-selected photos of religious sites in Edinburgh.
  • Edinburgh Books Selected travel guides and other books on Edinburgh.
  • Edinburgh Sightseeing Tours Save money and time by booking sightseeing tours and excursions in Edinburgh before you leave home.
  • Edinburgh Hotels Search availability, read reviews, browse photos, view a map and book a room in Edinburgh at the guaranteed lowest price.

Sacred Sites and Religious Attractions in Edinburgh

  • Greyfriars Kirk
    Dedicated in 1620, Greyfriars Kirk was the first Reformed church in Edinburgh and the setting for a good bit of Scottish national history.
  • Holyrood Abbey
    Holyrood Abbey was founded in 1128 by King David I for Augustinian monks from St Andrews. Holyrood Palace, home of Scottish royalty, was later built next to the abbey.
  • St Cuthbert's Church
    This historic church in Edinburgh has a friendly congregation that emphasizes Celtic spirituality.
  • St Giles Cathedral
    As the church where John Knox preached the Reformation, St Giles' is the mother church of the Church of Scotland and the birthplace of Presbyterianism.