This delightful part of the town was a medieval market place where you could buy anything which ate grass – it was a livestock market. It was also a place of public execution where the Edinburgh population would turn out in their thousands to watch criminals die on the gallows.
The Grassmarket was, famously, the location of Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘Heart of Midlothian’ and also the site of the execution of 100 protestant martyrs during ‘the killing time’ when Charles II took his revenge on those who had risen against his father.
Here you can hear the stories of ‘half hingit Maggie’ and the ‘resurrectionists’ who kept the medical school supplied with bodies for dissection when they could not get them from the gallows.
Today in the Grassmarket you can enjoy the many wonderful pubs, restaurants and unusual shops, taking your refreshments in hostelries frequented by Bonny Prince Charlie, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth in times gone by.
It is the place for people watching from the tables outside the bars and restaurants and is the closest that Edinburgh has to Parisian street cafe society.