EDINBURGH Castle made history today as the capital’s famous fortress welcomed back visitors for the first time since the pandemic closed its doors in March.

Alongside Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle will also re-open their doors to visitors this weekend.

The trio of castles make up the three most-visited sites managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Edinburgh Castle’s iconic doors were opened to the public by Alex Paterson, chief executive of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Mhairi Summers, a castle guide, following the site's longest period of closure since the Second World War.

The castles have been put through "a thorough process" to ready it for re-opening, and a number of new safety and hygiene measures will be in place to keep visitors safe.

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Tickets must be booked in advance, while on site cash payments are no longer being accepted for the foreseeable future, with visitors being asked to use contactless payment where possible.

Capacity will be reduced on site, one-way systems will be in place in some locations, and access to small enclosed spaces where physical distancing is not possible will be restricted.

Visitors will be required to wear face coverings when entering the retail shops, in line with Scottish Government guidance. The cafes on site will be open, but only for takeaway orders.

Paterson said: “Edinburgh Castle is an internationally renowned symbol of Scotland, and its re-opening is an important milestone not only for our organisation, but for the country as a whole as we continue on our journey to recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has taken a significant amount of planning to reach this point, and I’m very proud of the efforts of all of our staff who have been instrumental in making these sites ready to safely welcome visitors once again.

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“I’d also like to thank visitors for their patience throughout this period of uncertainty, and offer reassurance that the safety and quality of their visitor experience has been at the forefront of our preparations.

“The tourism sector will be central to Scotland’s national recovery, and our historic attractions are a key part of that tourism offering. We’re also encouraging people across Scotland to visit historic sites in their local area and rediscover the rich history on their doorstep.

“We’ve already enabled access to over 200 of our unstaffed and key keeper sites across the country, and with our top three most-visited attractions set to open this weekend, we are now working to re-open a further 23 ticketed sites on a rolling basis throughout August and in to mid-September to offer access across Scotland to the heritage sites in our care.”

For more information about visiting Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle, as well as HES’s plans to reopen more sites as restrictions ease, visit www.historicreopening.scot