The castle is open to the public year round and is a popular place for tourists for a family day out with nearly 380,000 people visiting in 2010 .
The castle is said to be haunted by the green lady of Stirling Castle who is said to be the ghost of one of Mary, Queen of Scots servants while Mary herself has been said to be the identity of the ghost of a pink lady
There is a lot to see and do at Stirling Castle within the various areas of the castle.
The Royal Palace
James V’s Palace at Stirling is one of the finest and best-preserved Renaissance buildings in Great Britain. Following a major programme of research and re-presentation, visitors can now see it much as it may have looked on completion around 1545.
Stirling Heads Gallery
After experiencing the amazing richness of the painted replica Heads in the King’s Inner Hall, visitors can go upstairs to see the originals on which they were based. These have been assembled from numerous sources, including private collections, and painstakingly conserved.
The Chapel Royal
Commissioned by James VI, the Chapel Royal was the last royal building in the castle. It was built in less than seven months in 1594 for the baptism of Prince Henry, the eldest child of James and his wife Queen Anna. He was heir to the throne, though he died at 18 and never became king.
The Stirling Tapestries
The magnificent Unicorn tapestries hanging in the Queen’s Inner Hall of the Palace were commissioned especially for Stirling Castle. They have been woven by hand, using techniques dating back to the 1400s.
The tapestries are closely based on a set of seven held by the Metropolitan Museum of New York at its Cloisters Museum. The original tapestries were produced in the early 1500s in the Low Countries.
The links between Stirling Castle and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders reach back through 200 years of distinguished service. The castle is proud to host their regimental museum where visitors can see exhibits and memorabilia from conflicts all round the world. Among them is Drummer Kennedy’s drum, which saved his life during the Boer War, when it deflected a bullet.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall was built for James IV around 1503. It was part of a huge building programme at the castle designed to provide a setting for major royal gatherings, in part to impress his new queen, Margaret Tudor. The Great Hall was by far the largest banqueting hall ever built in medieval Scotland with it’s hammerbeam roof Two high windows lit the platform on which the king and queen sat and five enormous fireplaces provided heating for the hall
The Palace Vaults
The Palace was built on a steep slope. Its east side is supported by a series of vaults, accessed by a passageway. These were originally used for storage. Today they house a series of exhibition spaces geared to younger visitors.
The Great Kitchens
Here you get a feel for how the busy kitchen staff prepared food and drink for a royal banquet in the 1500s when royalty ate well and entertained lavishly. Located close to the Great Hall, the Great Kitchens are a large suite of basement rooms where food was prepared and cooked, ale was brewed, wine was stored and bread was baked. This bustling scene has been re-created for visitors, with a soundtrack to help create the atmosphere.
The Great Kitchens may now seem large, but at one time they extended right along the east face of the Outer Close.
The castle exhibition
The exhibition focuses on key events and personalities in the castle’s long history, from around 840 to 1964 and beyond. The exhibition is housed in vaults accessed via the Queen Anne Garden. Known as casemates, they were built as part of the castle’s massive Outer Defences in 1708–14.
For more information on opening times, events and general enquiries about this visitor attraction tel 01786 450 000 or visit the castle’s website http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk