Edinburgh is a castle most everyone knows about. This, paradoxically, also makes me like it less, and that especially after having been through the castle on a proper tour as it did not live up to the ‘hype’.
While it makes sense that a lot of the original sets of structures have been demolished or rebuilt in the centuries since, it still makes the place less interesting. Indeed, a lot about Edinburgh Castle is also about its location on a volcanic plug which defines both how it looks and what it has enabled people to do with the place.
For me, it was reminiscent of Stirling where the local stronghold also dominates the skyline (and also a place which I didn’t like overly much). There is something about these structures which means that, even though they are imposing, the human aspect does not come through as well. It could be that the difficulty people here would have had in shaping this rock to anything that they needed as opposed to the nature allowed has come through and is reflected in the multi-tiered nature of Edinburgh Castle. It could be, indeed, that this castle is more a testament to human adaptability than conquest.
One of the few interesting facts I know about this place is that the early plans for motorways connecting the nation included one passing through the rock formation under Edinburgh Castle. I think this would have really added to place — maybe it is the modern touch this castle lacks with the 17th and 18th centuries looming too heavily? I am not sure, but it would have definitely made for an imposing drive to see the structure loom in the background and then pass under it. Too many of such schemes get pulled to preserve the old when indeed we need to have a connection with that historic side to understand what we are maintaining and why; and I think this goal is served by having the past and present together insofar as possible.
Yet, Edinburgh is still very much about the past — but that past is the recent one. I would recommend people took a look here but not to expect too much. There are finer castles in every sense: more imposing structures (Campbell), more regal constructions (Falkland), and cheaper places to access (most everywhere) for what is at Edinburgh for people to consider this first and foremost a tourist trap.