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Tourist Places To Visit In Stirling
Stirling is a city located within central Scotland, around 60 km from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Situated along the River Forth, Stirling is often considered a strategically important region that connects the Scottish Highlands and the Lowlands. The two most important battles that led to the independence of Scotland were fought here, which makes Stirling one of the most historically significant cities in the country and region of national pride. A hub of contemporary culture, art and music, Stirling is a city where you will leave with fascinating stories and unique experiences to last you a lifetime. Here is a list of all the top places to visit when in Stirling.
The most defining structure in the town, Stirling Castle has been a strategically vital fortress with immense historical significance in shaping Scotland’s past. Through William Wallace’s victory at Stirling Bridge to Robert the Bruce’s win against the English at Bannockburn, Stirling Castle has stood through all. For the longest time, the castle was the might of Scotland’s military, and also served as the residence of the Scottish royal family. The location, architecture and the historical significance of the fortress help it stand apart from many other prominent castles in the country.
The main highlights of the castle are the Great Hall and the Royal Palace, which was recently restored in 2011 and refurbished to make it look more like its 16th century self. The interiors of this magnificent building are just as exquisite as its outer appearance is formidable. The palace apartments are reminiscent of the wealth and opulence of the eras gone by and will transport you back to an age of decadence. Free guided tours of the castle are available every half hour.
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum
The Argyll and Sutherland Museum is located within the grounds of the Stirling Castle and displays exhibits related to the Scottish military and the history of the regiment from 1794. The interesting feature about the museum is the staff; the curators hired former soldiers to be a part of the museum who are always ready with detailed information about any questions that come their way from the visitors. The exhibits here consist of paintings, uniforms, weapons, medals and even letters that were written by soldiers to their families back home.
Fans of the show Game of Thrones will recognize Doune Castle as the famed set of Winterfell. Several other movies and television series have also featured this medieval stronghold that dates back to the 14th-century. Tours of Doune Castle are available that usually include the stunning landscapes of Loch Lomond and the West Highlands. The fortress as it stands today is one of the best-preserved castles in Scotland and has remained mostly unchanged since it was first built for the Duke of Albany. Visitors dressing up in period costumes before coming in for a tour of the castle is a common sight.
Stirling Old Town Jail
When touring a city, one doesn’t often expect to visit a jail as part of their visit. At the impressive Victorian-era Old Town Jail, visitors will get to experience what life must have been like as a prisoner during the 1800s in Scotland. The tour of the jail involves costumed guides who are also actors and offer the tour while in perfect character and retelling stories of the prisoners. Some of the old cells and passageways are left to visitors to explore on their own. There are occasional ‘prison breaks’ that may be organised unexpectedly, which usually appeal as a fun activity for visitors of all ages.
Dunblane Cathedral dates back to the 11th-century and is one of the very few medieval castles present in Scotland. The present-day cathedral is much larger than what was originally built, with the building of the cathedral and the tower remaining unfinished till being completed in the 13th-century. The difference in construction gap is very evident in the stonework of the cathedral, which is also beautified with unique animal carvings and stained glass windows. Guided tours of the cathedral are available on occasions and scheduled with prior notice.
Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
The Smith Art Gallery and Museum is a wonderful blend of history and culture that tells the story of Stirling from the prehistoric times to the modern era. It contains numerous artefacts on display that showcase the extraordinary culture of the region. One of the most prized possessions of the museum is the world’s oldest football, which was discovered behind panelling in the Queen’s chamber of Stirling Castle in the year 1981. The football is originally believed to date back to the late 1400s. Another highlight of the building is Oswald, the museum gallery cat that often accompanies visitors on the tour of the museum. There are numerous exhibitions held here every year featuring both local and international artists.
Bannockburn Heritage Centre
The Bannockburn Heritage Centre is a great way to learn more about the battle that led to the defeat of the English army at the hands of Robert the Bruce in the year 1314. This was a landmark win that led to Scotland being established as a separate nation. The Heritage Centre brings the battle to life using interactive technology where visitors can watch a digital re-enactment of the win onto a 3D landscape.