Heart of Midlothian
Heart of Midlothian
4
The area
Address
Neighbourhood: 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-flavoured 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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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.0
11 reviews
Excellent
3
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7
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Victoria B
Raleigh, NC1,632 contributions
Sept 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 25 April 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.

Wombling_Free_7548
Bristol, UK2,079 contributions
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 5 August 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.

johnhouston2
Knaresborough, UK5,222 contributions
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 3 December 2020
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Steviefull
Kidderminster, UK1,690 contributions
Aug 2020
This was pointed out to us on our Sandemans walking tour, its the kind of thing you will see and just walk past without any knowledge of its history. The location of the tollbooth for public executions in the city, it is considered good luck to spit on it for some reason, which is often why you see locals walking around it rather then through it.

It is located outside St. Giles Cathedral and if you are doing any kind of sightseeing in Edinburgh then you will probably walk past it. Not worth a journey to see just it, but worth it when passing.

Just another part of this great cities history.
Written 17 October 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.

Epic-Traveller
Rushden, UK4,477 contributions
Jul 2020
A nice mosaic on the cobbled floor outside St Giles's Cathedral and Parliamnet Square; the "heart of Midlothian".
Written 23 July 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.

Taxidevil
Glasgow, UK3,001 contributions
Aug 2019
The heart of Midlothian is a heart shaped mosaic set into the cobbles near St Giles Cathedral. It was the site of the tollbooth, a prison and place of public executions.
It is thought you should spit on it which may, or may not, be for luck.
Written 21 March 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.

Anu
United Kingdom896 contributions
Jan 2020
This is a mosaic made into the shape of a heart and it marks the site of the old tolbooth in the city and also the center of the town. Public executions also happened here as it was the entrance to the tolbooth. There's a tradition of spitting on the heart as you go by for luck so don't be surprised if you see someone do that.
Written 11 March 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.

Sco
Aberdeen, UK4,123 contributions
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 28 December 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
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 27 November 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.
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Heart of Midlothian (Edinburgh) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

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