Right between Princes Street and the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, you can find the Scottish National Gallery. Their permanent collection has great paintings and sculptures to offer on display: on several floors and rooms with high ceilings, art pieces from all over Europe are exhibited. Not only do the paintings stand out from the brightly coloured walls, their delicate golden frames also shine and are sometimes even older than the artworks they hold.
As the collection consists of exhibits from the 1500s (renaissance) to early 1900s (impressionism), most of the depicted themes are of Christian, mythological and scenic nature. For example, one image shows the martyr St Agatha of Catania, whose breasts were cut off and served in a bowl because she wanted to keep her virginity. You can read this and other fantastic stories on plates that accompany all art pieces that give you some basic information. Sometimes, the paintings are not even finished, so you can only see a few outlines in an otherwise perfect picture.
Especially if you are not familiar with Scottish painters such as McTaggart, Constable and Ramsay, the Gallery is worth a visit. Even if you don’t happen to be an art history student, there are works of artists everybody knows, e.g. Botticelli, Van Gogh or Raphael. And you’ll certainly be impressed by some of the paintings, which are so huge, they take up complete walls.
Insider tip: downstairs, a terrific souvenir shop and a café round up the great museum experience.