Palace of Holyrood House ***

Region: Edinburgh

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The royal family's official residence in Scotland. Yes, but it was also the 16th-century home of Mary, Queen of Scots. In Mary's bedchamber it was that her jealous second husband, Lord Darnley, restrained the pregnant queen while his henchmen murdered her secretary – and favourite – David Rizzio. A plaque in the neighbouring room marks the spot where Rizzio bled to death.

It used to be a guesthouse attached to Holyrood Abbey that was extended by James IV in 1501. The oldest surviving part of the building, the northwestern tower, was built in 1529 as a royal apartment for James V and his wife, Mary of Guise. Mary spent six turbulent years here, during which time she debated with John Knox and married both her second and third husbands.