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Edinburgh Castle opens new ticket office and launches official Edinburgh Castle website

21 January 2008

Visitors to Edinburgh Castle now have the choice to purchase their tickets from the comfort of their home on the new informative official Edinburgh Castle website, or from the Castle’s new contemporary ticket office, designed by one of Scotland’s leading architectural practices. Regardless of where they buy their ticket they can expect a world-class welcome from Historic Scotland’s staff and much shorter queues at the Castle.

Scotland’s leading visitor attraction, Edinburgh Castle, now has its own official website to further enhance visitors’ experience of the iconic Castle located at the centre of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. The website provides information on the many attractions and events at the Castle, and for the first time, enables online ticket purchasing.

Until the creation of the Edinburgh Castle website, the only official website on the Castle was that of Historic Scotland, which is responsible for the care and management of the attraction. The development of the new dedicated website for Scotland’s most famous stronghold is part of the Agency’s strategy to generate heightened awareness of the Castle’s status as a must-see global attraction, and ongoing drive to ensure every one of the 1.2 million visitors passing through its doors each year enjoys a truly world-class experience.

Historic Scotland’s commitment to this key objective is demonstrated by its £2.7 million investment in the Edinburgh Castle Visitor Reception Project. Due for completion by Easter 2008, the project comprises a number of significant improvements to visitor services and facilities. These are designed to improve the setting of the Castle, cut queuing times, simplify entry to the Castle, provide a warmer welcome for visitors and enhance their overall impressions of the attraction.

One of the key stages in the Project - the removal of the unsightly old ticket office from the front of the Castle, and the opening of a stylish new ticket office, complemented by a bright new terrace offering spectacular city views - has now been achieved. To ensure visitors are admitted as quickly and conveniently as possible, the ticket office has a new sophisticated onsite electronic ticketing system.

Kenny Crawford, Historic Scotland Head of Sales, said: “The Castle’s new ticket office and ticketing system represent a major step forward which has enabled us to streamline our admissions arrangements and reduce queues.

“It will now be much simpler and faster to buy tickets and enjoy quick access to Edinburgh Castle. We wanted to ensure visitors get a great impression as soon as they arrive and are able to make the most of their time whilst there. Our new systems mean that everyone coming to the Castle - whether in large tour parties, small groups or individually - will benefit by being able to gain speedier admission. Tour operators, for example, can now pay and book tickets for groups in advance and simply collect them on arrival.

“And in addition to the fast-track systems in operation at the Castle’s new ticket office, visitors also now have the opportunity to buy tickets securely online in advance of their arrival via the Edinburgh Castle website. To offer them further flexibility and convenience, they then have the delivery options of either printing off their tickets at home or picking them up at the ticket office or the ticket machines in the Castle.”

The online ticket purchasing facility is featured in the website’s ‘Plan Your Visit’ section, which provides useful information for any would-be visitor, such as details of the Castle’s many facilities, opening times, ticket prices, visitor services and audio tours, which can also be ordered online.

Another of the website’s interactive features - in the ‘Tour The Castle’ section - is a virtual tour of the Castle. This enables the viewer to ‘fly’ around a 3D model of the attraction and click on key locations within its walls to find out details of them. The website also features a picture gallery offering a range of views of the attraction and images of its architectural details, as well as the facility to send an Edinburgh Castle ‘e-card’ to friends or family.

The website’s other main sections are: ‘The Castle’s Story’ which provides details of its colourful history, a timeline of events through the past, and fascinating facts, both little-known and well-documented; and ‘Events’ which gives details of the added highlights visitors can enjoy through the year.

Central to the design of the website is Edinburgh Castle’s distinctive branding and logo of a mighty lion on a rock. Launched in October to strengthen the heritage site’s unique identity, these convey its significance in history, character, and importance as a national symbol and Scottish cultural resource.

Linda Kong, Historic Scotland eCommunications Manager, said: “The creation of the Castle’s own website reflects its status as Scotland’s premier visitor attraction and enables better access to useful content, such as multi-lingual downloads for overseas visitors, and interactive features, like the 3D model, to assist and encourage prospective visitors.

“We wanted to build a website that was informative and simple to use, with easy to navigate, clear sections. We also wanted it to reflect the quality you would expect from such a world-class attraction. The website is really a taster of the whole Edinburgh Castle experience that awaits visitors.”

Speaking about the launch of the website and the new ticket office and ticketing systems, Chris Watkins, Historic Scotland Head of Major Projects, who is leading the Edinburgh Castle Visitor Reception Project, said: "The creation of the Castle’s website and impressive new ticket office, complete with its streamlined systems, are key milestones in this major initiative to provide a visitor experience of unrivalled quality with better services and facilities for visitors.

“Our aim is to ensure Edinburgh Castle is a world-class visitor attraction and stands out in the increasingly competitive leisure and business tourism market at home and abroad. These important developments will help us ensure every single visitor enjoys an outstanding and memorable experience of the Castle from the moment they log on to the new website until the moment they leave the Castle esplanade.”

Notes for editors
·Edinburgh Castle’s new ticket office and visitor reception terrace were designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects and constructed by Mansell. The new onsite electronic ticketing system was designed and provided by Gateway Ticketing Systems.

·Edinburgh Castle’s website at was designed and developed by Euro RSCG 4D Digital. The 3D model was created with technology developed by and used unique file compression to deliver a feature rich experience. The online ticketing facility uses ecommerce technology from Gateway Ticketing Systems.

·The Castle’s brand identity and logo - which are key elements of the website and Edinburgh Castle Visitor Reception Project - were launched in October. The two companies which worked in partnership with Historic Scotland on their development were Inverleith agency The Union and London-based consultancy Corporate Edge, an international destination branding specialist. The brand identity and logo were created to give the Castle a distinctive, stronger image in recognition of its status as Scotland’s leading visitor attraction and as the flagship of Historic Scotland’s portfolio of Properties in Care and 75 paid-for visitor attractions. The brand identity is being phased in for a wide variety of uses including signage, vehicle livery and staff uniforms at the Castle.

·Edinburgh Castle is one of 345 heritage properties and sites from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, in the care of Historic Scotland. Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. In addition to Edinburgh Castle, some of the most popular are Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys. (For further details visit: ) Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

·Edinburgh Castle, built on the 340 million-year-old remains of an extinct volcano, dominates the Scottish capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s history. The ‘stronghold of Eidyn’ was first recorded before 600AD and by the Middle Ages, it had become a mighty fortification and the favoured royal residence of Scotland’s kings and queens. Many defining moments of Scottish history have taken place there. In 1140, the castle became the first recorded meeting place of the assembly we now know as the Scottish Parliament. In 1566, it was the birthplace of the only child of Mary Queen of Scots; a son who grew up to unite the crowns of Scotland and England. And in 1689, it endured its last full siege when the garrison became the last defenders of the Stewart king James VII and II.

  • The castle’s top attractions are:
  • The Honours of Scotland – the nation’s crown jewels.
  • The Stone of Destiny – the coronation stone of the ancient kings of Scots.
  • The Great Hall, Laich Hall, King’s Dining Room and St Margaret’s Chapel - some of the remarkable medieval rooms and buildings where kings, queens and great nobles wined, dined and worshipped.
  • The Prisons of War Experience – thousands of military prisoners were held in the castle over the centuries. There is now a major recreation of what it was like at the end of the 18th century.
  • National War Memorial - an impressive building commemorating those who have died in conflict from World War I onwards. There are also three military museums at the castle.
  • Mons Meg – a huge medieval siege gun that fired stones weighing 150kg (330lbs) for 3.2km (two miles).
  • The One O’clock Gun – fired daily, except the Sabbath and certain holidays, as a time signal.
  • The Dog Cemetery – the last resting place of regimental mascots and the faithful friends of many officers.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Historic Scotland
Marketing and Media Manager
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871