Heart of Midlothian
Heart of Midlothian
4
The area
Address
Neighborhood: Old Town
Few Edinburghers live in the Old Town, but its labyrinth of dank alleys and steep streets suggests this was not always the case. Today, it’s mostly visitors, tartan-flavored souvenir shops, and pipers that you’ll find on its cobbled streets. This is the place to get a feel for Auld Reekie (Old Smelly), as the town was once nicknamed, and stroll the Royal Mile, the thoroughfare that links the castle with the royal palace – two of Edinburgh’s great set-piece attractions. But there’s lots more exploring to do here down dozens of little alleys, or wynds, while at night the city’s busiest clubs erupt along the Cowgate which is closed to traffic for this purpose.

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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles12 reviews
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johnhouston2
Knaresborough, UK5,280 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020 • Couples
Probably, to most people in the U.K., Heart of Midlothian is simply the name of an Edinburgh football club. This attractive mosaic at the top of the Royal Mile commemorates something rather more darkly historical however, and is situated on the site of the Tolbooth prison, where torture and executions were carried out until it was demolished in 1817.

Other than football fans, literary folk might also have heard of the Heart of Midlothian as it became famous as the title of a novel by Sir Walter Scott in which there was a fictional riot at the Old Tolbooth.

Nowadays, the mosaic is an attractive continuation of the name although, rather less attractive, is the tradition of locals to spit on it as they walk past, although there is no definitive explanation for this practice.

Some say it’s a practice left over from the days when passersby would spit at the prison in solidarity with those held inside, while others say that it was the prisoners themselves who spat on the heart as they were released through the prison doors.

I’m all in favour of tradition but would suggest that most folk who spit here couldn’t actually tell you what the tradition actually is - in which case, as far as those people are concerned, it’s is simply an unpleasant habit!

Whichever the case - mind your step!
Written December 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Victoria B
Raleigh, NC1,654 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2022
Just outside St. Giles' Cathedral, this was the spot of the city's 15th century municipal building and jail. One would think a heart means love, but it's location saw Witch burnings, decapitations and hangings. People still spit on the heart to show their distaste in the rough justice served here..perfect since my child laid on the ground in the heart! Locals sure got a good laugh from that!
Written April 25, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Waddler
York, UK11,707 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Family
You need to be paying attention to see this and once you do there's no explanation or information, but nonetheless as you are likely passing anyway as a visitor to Edinburgh it is worth keeping an eye out for it.
Written May 6, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Wombling_Free_7548
Bristol, UK2,154 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021 • Couples
This marks the spot where people used to be executed, so has a poignant history. Watch out for people spitting on the heart - its tradition.
Written August 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sco
Aberdeen, UK4,123 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
A fairly covert bit of local history, which I could see no information about. Fairly camouflaged on the street, especially at night-time. Thankfully people don't seem to spit at the heart anymore (which was minging!).
Written December 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Malgorzata
12,113 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2019
The Heart of Midlothian is a heart-shaped mosaic, formed in coloured granite setts, built into the pavement near the St Giles Cathedral in the Royal Mile. The Heart of Midlothian mosaic marks the entrance to the former Tollbooth building on Edinburgh High Street. Old Tolbooth was the administrative centre of the town, a prison, and one of several sites of public execution. You might miss it if you do not know where to look for. Many people probably walk past every day and pay little attention to.
Written November 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Epic-Traveller
Rushden, UK4,500 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
A nice mosaic on the cobbled floor outside St Giles's Cathedral and Parliamnet Square; the "heart of Midlothian".
Written July 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

tarimeando
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain2,972 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Couples
The story of this heart of tiles in the ground near St Giles Cathedral on High Street is most curious. Apparently there was once a prison in that enclave. This infamous prison, known as Old Tolbooth, dates back to the 14th century and has gained a reputation throughout the UK as a place to avoid at all costs due to the vile, damp and dark conditions.
Nowadays the Scots and some tourists have the tradition of spitting in it. I know that spitting thing is disgusting, but the story is very interesting.
Google
Written January 31, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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Heart of Midlothian - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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