Surrounded by Braveheart battlefields, Scotland’s smallest city Stirling, packs a mighty punch when it comes to history and beauty.
Crowing this underrated city is medieval Stirling castle sitting foreboding on a rocky volcanic outcrop, guarding a key crossing point over the River Forth.
It has stood the test of time against the many battles that were waged by the likes of William Wallace in 1297 and Robert the Bruce.
The Scottish monarchy once resided there and it was also a military base for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlands until 1964 and if these thick walls could talk, they’d talk of battles and plots.
There are vaults, a Great Hall, and the Royal Palace which lies within the walls where you can follow in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots and have the chance to dress up in historical costumes.
The beautiful formal gardens, the King’s Knot were once used as hunting and jousting grounds for the royal family. Now they feature ditches, orchards, fish pools, and a vegetable garden.
Stirling sits between Glasgow and Edinburgh and it is a joy to wander around its cobbled streets and the facade of Mar’s Wark, a grand Renaissance townhouse, shows how obviously magnificent some of the buildings were in its day.
It was the home of the keeper of the castle, John Erskine. The Church of the Holy Rude founded in 1129 sits on the shoulder of the city’s largest hill and it vies for position against Stirling Castle.
Mary, Queen of Scots had her son, King James VI baptised here.
A quirkier attraction, found up on Mote Hill, is a large sat within a metal cage. It is where King James I would have his enemies despatched and decapitated and more gruesome history can be discovered at The Old Town Jail through holograms and reconstructed cells and offices.
Stirling’s more unusual claim to fame is the fact that they are the guardians of the World’s Oldest Football. Tucked away in the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum (which has over 40,000 objects) is a ball that dates back to the 16th Century.
Enclosed in a perspex box, it is made from animal skin, surrounding a pig’s bladder, and held together with stitching. It was found in the Queen’s chambers in Stirling Castle and thought to have belonged to Mary Queen of Scots.
Don’t miss the Wallace Monument, a fabulously-ornate Gothic creation dedicated to legendary freedom fighter, Sir William Wallace which sits on the shoulder of Abbey Craig, where he led his troops to victory in The Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Climb the 246 steps for panoramic views across the seriously breathtaking landscape.