The Real Mary King's Close

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Historic Mary King's Close can be found beneath the buildings of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland's Old Town. Mary King, a merchant burgess who lived on the Close in the 17th century, is credited with giving the neighborhood its name. Mary King, a city trader, settled in what was then called Alexander King's Close, now called Mary King's Close. As Edinburgh's second-largest thoroughfare (after The Royal Mile), it served as a marketplace. 

After her husband died in 1635, she moved her children to The Close. Mary supported her family by selling clothing and fabric, but she also appreciated the finer things in life, such as expensive wines and exotic ceramics. Mary King's accomplishment of having a street named after her and the artifacts she collected show the life of a remarkable woman who defied stereotypes and left a lasting impact. To make way for the 18th-century Royal Exchange, a large section of The Close had to be dismantled and buried, and it remained out of the public eye for decades. Many urban legends and tall tales began to surround the area. It opened to the public in 2003 and has since become a five-star attraction that has won numerous awards. 

How to explore the Real Mary King's Close?

  • Find out what happened to the people who lived and died on Edinburgh's only surviving street from the 17th century as you make your way through a maze of Old Town alleys. 
  • Over the course of 60 minutes, you will be able to get a feel for the underground close and learn about its fascinating mysteries and traditions. 
  • Listen as your guide conjures up the lively atmosphere of the Close's heyday while they provide an interesting insight into the lives of the rich and poor who once called it home. 
  • You can retrace the steps of long-gone locals if you choose. Tour guides at The Real Mary King's Close will play as characters from the Close of Old Town to bring the area's history to life for you. 
  • The Royal Exchange Coffee House serves genuine Scottish fare for the whole family daily, beginning at 9 a.m. 
  • Come hang out in the Plague Doctor's courtyard and get to know him. 
  • There is a store that sells everything related to Mary King, from souvenirs of the plague and pestilence to high-end, genuine Scottish presents. You can take away a special memento of the experience.
  • imageDuration Required
    45 minutes

Address of The Real Mary King's Close

High Street, 2 Warriston's Close, Edinburgh EH1 1PG Scotland, United Kingdom