Propelled into the limelight by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, this 15th-century chapel is well worth a look, even for those with no interest in Knights Templar conspiracy theories. The Gothic exterior—with its flying buttresses, pinnacles, and pointed arches—hides an elaborate interior, full of stone carvings rich in symbolism.
Rosslyn Chapel is a popular day trip from Edinburgh. Organized day tours often venture south from Edinburgh, stopping at Rosslyn Chapel, Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders, and—in some instances—at Hadrian’s Wall across the border in England. Other organized tours plot courses north from Rosslyn Chapel, making stops at Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument, and Dunfermline Abbey (the burial place of Robert the Bruce). Other day tours to Rosslyn Chapel stick to historic sites in and around Scotland’s capital, such as the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and Glenkinchie Distillery.
The modern, on-site visitor center at Rosslyn Chapel helps day-trippers decode the enigmatic carvings using interactive displays, as do the informative talks, which take place at the chapel several times daily.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Rosslyn Chapel is a must-see for history buffs and Dan Brown fans.
- Allow 1–2 hours for your visit.
- Photography is not allowed inside the chapel itself.
- A café is located within the visitor center.
- Most of the chapel, with the exception of the crypt, is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Rosslyn Chapel is in the Lothians, about a 30-minute drive south from Edinburgh city center.
To get there by public transport, take the 37 Lothian bus (marked via Roslin) from Queensferry Street and get off at the Roslin Hotel stop. The chapel is a 2-minute walk from there.
When to Get There
Rosslyn Chapel is open throughout the year. If you want to explore the grounds, go in summer when the weather is more likely to comply. Weekday mornings are especially peaceful.
The Carvings at Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel’s intricate carvings are the its star attraction, and have spurred many theories regarding their meaning. The carvings feature flowers and biblical scenes, tsymbols supposedly associated with the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, and mysterious native American plants that were made before Colombus’ discovery of the New World. Some posit that the Knights of Templar hid in parts of the chapel and that its vaults may hold the Holy Grail or even the body of Christ.