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Edinburgh is an old city with a lot of history. But not everything in Auld Reekie is visible from the street level. A secret world exists underneath Edinburgh’s streets, and you can get a glimpse of Edinburgh’s underground if you know where to look. Below, we have listed some of the best subterranean attractions you can explore to experience Edinburgh’s darkest moments and deepest secrets.
Foremost among Edinburgh’s subterranean adventures is our very own Mary King’s Close. But did you know Mary King’s Close was not always underground? Originally an above-ground street in Edinburgh’s Old Town, Mary King’s Close reopened in 2003. Mary King’s Close is Edinburgh’s only preserved 17th-century street. Follow your character guide and explore the real history of the close and its famous (and infamous) residents.
You can explore Mary King’s Close in our guided underground tours.
Under Corstorphine Hill in Barnton Quarry, there is a surprising leftover spectre of the Cold War. Barnton Quarry Nuclear Bunker was used from the 1940s until the 1980s. First, it was built as a last resort for a nuclear strike. It was also used as the protected headquarters for the RAF’s operations command centre for all of Scotland’s radar stations. It was neglected and derelict for a while but is about to experience a revival. Plans have been approved to turn this 100m deep relic into a visitor attraction, so keep an eye out for more info!
Banshee Labyrinth is called Scotland’s most haunted pub. It is located just off the Royal Mile, not far from Mary King’s Close. Once you have your drink and are looking for a cosy corner, you realise it just keeps going! The bar stretches back into the old city, and the unwary, or inebriated often get turned around in the un-surprisingly labyrinthine collection of rooms and corridors. The bar makes great use of these underground spaces holding hilarious comedy nights and music events loud enough to wake the dead.
When you next visit Edinburgh, explore the secret world of underground adventures and hidden gems right under your feet.