Edinburgh Castle has opened up for tourists again following the coronavirus lockdown, which saw it closed for the longest period of closure since the Second World War.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the body responsible for the fortress, reopened the castle doors on Saturday, alongside other famous landmarks such as Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle.
The popular tourist destination will see a reduced capacity and certain areas will be restricted to coincide with social distancing regulations.
"Edinburgh Castle is an internationally renowned symbol of Scotland, and its reopening 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", said Alex Paterson, chief executive of HES. “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".
Paterson thanked visitors for their patience throughout the uncertain period, and said that the safety and quality of their visitor experience have 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", he added.
He continued saying that they are encouraging visitors 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 reopen 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".
Mr Finnigan said that this has been the longest period of time that the castle has been closed since WW2 and hoped that it would never happen again.
"It is the biggest challenge I've had in my almost 10 years in my role", he said. "I am excited we are open as it sends a message that Edinburgh is open for business again",
The ancient castle has been closed since March due to the coronavirus lockdown, which according to executive manage Nick Finnigan, left the grass knee-high and the water, plumbing and electrical systems all requiring testing.
Tickets to enter the castle must be booked in advance and face coverings necessary to enter interior shops. Visitors will also have to follow a one way system throughout the castle but would be able to spend as much time as they want inside.
Audio tour machines will be used just once a day and cleaned. Those visiting will also have the option of scanning QR codes with their mobile phones to receive information about the castle.