Rosslyn Chapel, also known as the Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew, is a 15th-century chapel located in the village of Roslin, Midlothian. The interior of the chapel is beautifully decorated, with carvings covering almost every surface. The chapel gained worldwide fame after being featured in Dan Brown’s novel, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, and it’s now a popular tourist destination due to the mysteries and legends associated with it.
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Saturday: 12.00 to 4.15 pm
|Admission Price:||Adults: £9.50
Children go free as part of a family group
|Parking:||Free on-site car park|
|Contact:||0131 440 2159
|Facilities:||Gift shop, toilets, cafe, disabled access|
|BUY TICKETS||Click here to purchase|
The stunning Rosslyn Chapel has origins dating back to 1446 and is a popular destination for anyone with an interest in history and architecture due to the ornate stone carvings that seem to cover every square inch of its walls. The mysterious symbolism of these carvings has led to many theories about their meaning, with interest in the chapel exploding after it was featured in the movie, The Davinci Code.
One of the most popular narratives suggests that the chapel houses the Holy Grail or the treasure of the Knights Templar, while others suggest it has angelic symbols that are yet to be deciphered. But it’s not just Tom Hanks movies and intricate stonework that attract visitors, because this part of Scotland is incredibly scenic and features lots of walking trails that make for a great day out, with a visit to Rosslyn Chapel being the icing on the cake.
The chapel lies 7 miles south of Edinburgh city centre near Rosslyn Glen, which would be worth visiting even if the chapel wasn’t there. If you have a dog or children, it’s one of the best places in Midlothian to take them, especially in summer when the glen blooms in a riot of colour.
The chapel is open to visitors and offers guided tours that provide a deeper insight into the chapel’s history, architecture, and the stories that surround it. There’s also a visitor centre, a shop, and an on-site cafe.
1: Rosslyn Chapel is famous for its elaborate stone carvings. There are more than 100 green men, mystical figures with faces obscured by leaves, carved in different parts of the chapel. The Apprentice Pillar, a beautifully decorated column, is another highlight.
2: The chapel gained international fame after being featured in Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Visitors can explore the many intriguing theories and mysteries associated with the chapel as well as see the filming site where Tom Hanks played Robert Langdon.
3: The chapel has a superb cafe where visitors can sit on a balcony and look across a beautiful and tranquil churchyard that has ancient yew trees and a number of stone carvings, as well as the nearby Roslin Glen Country Park which is perfect for a relaxing walk after visiting the chapel.
2: If you don’t want to drive yourself to the chapel, I suggest taking a small group tour that the Rabbie’s (one of the biggest operators in Scotland) offers. Click here to learn more – Rabbie’s small group tours of the UK and Ireland.
3: Rosslyn Chapel is certainly an unusual place, but for a really atmospheric attraction, take a look at Gilmerton Cove which lies five miles to the north in Edinburgh.
Although Rosslyn Chapel is small, there’s so much to look at that you’ll be kept entertained for at least an hour. Take the Apprentice Pillar in the centre of the chapel, for example, with its carvings of twirling vines that look uncannily like the helix of a DNA strand.
Was a representation of the core of all life carved into the core of Rosslyn Chapel 500 years before modern scientists discovered it? Or how about the carvings of corn stalks around one of the windows? Nothing interesting about corn stalks, you might think.
Except that corn was an unknown crop in Scotland at the time the chapel was built, and it wasn’t even known to Europeans until Christopher Columbus discovered America 50 years after the chapel was completed. So who carved the corn stalks into the stonework?
There’s also a legend that says that the Knights Templar, the sect of holy warriors founded by the Catholic Church in 1119, found the Holy Grail inside Solomons Temple during the Crusades, and after retreating to Rosslyn they buried the relic beneath the chapel’s foundations.
Strangely, there are carvings of the Knights Templar on the walls inside Rosslyn, so maybe the grail story has some truth to it?
If you’d like to make the most of a visit, I recommend taking advantage of the services offered by the Chapel Guides who lead free tours throughout the day, beginning about 30 minutes after the start of each visitor time slot. The tours cover the chapel’s history, the tale of the chapel’s owners, and some of the most important carvings. Tours typically last 10 to 15 minutes and are conducted inside the chapel, though some may be conducted outside in the summer.
A visit to Rosslyn Chapel can be rounded off with a drink on the visitor centre balcony that overlooks the treetops of the glen, while inside there’s a gift shop that has a good selection of and souvenirs.
You can visit Rosslyn Chapel by car or public transport, but if you’re not happy with making your own way there, you can also book a guided tour from Edinburgh with Rabbies Tours. This operator specialises in small groups of no more than 16 people, and they offer fun and informative tours for a reasonable price. Check out Rabbie’s small group tours of the UK and Ireland for more information.
Things to Do
Guided Tour of Rosslyn Chapel – Embrace the history of Scotland by taking a guided tour of Rosslyn Chapel. Expert guides will take you through the chapel’s intricate carvings and unique architecture while telling you about its connection to the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail. To book a tour, visit the Get Your Guide website.
Attend a Choral Service – Experience a choral service at Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel’s acoustics amplify the choir’s harmonies to create a truly magical experience. Services are held every Sunday and are open to all visitors.
Photography – With its beautiful architecture and picturesque surroundings, Rosslyn Chapel is a photographer’s dream location. Capture the details of the stone carvings or the stunning woodland views. Please note that while interior photography is not permitted, visitors are allowed to photograph the exterior.
Visit the Rosslyn Chapel Visitor Centre – Enhance your visit by exploring the visitor centre. The centre offers interactive displays that delve deeper into the chapel’s history, the Sinclair family, and the stonemasons who crafted it. There’s also a tearoom where you can enjoy traditional Scottish meals (the terrace is a great place to sit with a coffee).
Walk in Roslin Glen Country Park – Surrounding the chapel is the beautiful Roslin Glen Country Park. A walk through this park offers a delightful experience with stunning views of the River North Esk and paths that meander under a canopy of ancient trees.
Things to Do Nearby
Pentland Hills. Flotterstone EH26 0PP. 9-minute drive.
A regional park near Edinburgh that offers walks across several peaks. There are picturesque reservoirs inside the park as well as the ancient remains of pre-Roman civilization in places like Castlelaw Hill Fort. The car park at Flotterstone offers the best route into the hills and there is a café and pub within a few minute’s walk of it.
Roslin Glen. 78 Crusader Dr, Roslin EH25 9PX. 2-minute walk.
Visit Rosling Glen to enjoy a riverside walk with rough paths that follow the River North Esk. The country park is a short walk from Rosslyn Chapel and there is a car parking area with nearby seating and picnic benches.
Penicuik Dalkeith Walkway. Lea Farm, Roslin EH25 9PY. 5-minute drive.
This is a scenic countryside footpath on a reclaimed railway track that partially follows the River North Esk at Penicuik before diverting inland through fields. Can be reached on foot from the chapel or visited by car from the roundabout that joins the B7003 and A6094.
Roslin Gunpowder Factory. 9PX, B7003, Roslin. 11-minute drive.
An abandoned gunpowder factory that operated from 1804 to 1954 and was at one time the largest in Scotland. It is now a collection of ruined buildings buried in the woodland of Rosslyn Glen. Easily reached from a spar of the Penicuik Dalkeith Walkway.
Castlelaw Hill Fort. Penicuik EH26 0PB. 10-minute drive.
A raised earthwork that’s believed to have been used for storage by the tribes that lived around the area 2,000 years ago. There is a car park nearby and a footpath that continues past the fort in the direction of the City of Edinburgh bypass
Frequently Asked Questions
Who built Rosslyn Chapel?
Building works on Rosslyn Chapel began in the mid-15th century by the first Earl of Caithness, William Sinclair.
How much does it cost to visit Rosslyn Chapel?
Rosslyn Chapel costs around £10 for an adult ticket. The chapel has free entry for under 18s. Visit the Rosslyn Chapel tickets page for the latest entry prices.
What is buried under Rosslyn Chapel?
There are many myths and legends that guess at what is buried under Rosslyn Chapel, with the most popular theory being that it is a treasure secreted in an underground vault that was left there by the Knights Templar.
There is no evidence of a Holy Grail, but some historians believe the underground vault is a store of rare books that were saved from a fire 500 years ago.
Was The Da Vinci Code filmed in Rosslyn Chapel?
Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh was the film set for the final few scenes of the film ‘The Da Vinci Code’ starring Tom Hanks.