Stirling is located on the River Forth, 26 miles (40 km) north-east of Glasgow and 37 miles (58 km) north-west of Edinburgh. It lies on a fault line surrounded by high hills. To the west are the hills of Lomond and Arrochar. Northward stand the magnificent twin peaks of Ben Vorlich and Stùc a' Chròin, and to the east run the Ochils Scarp.
The strategic high rock on which the castle stands dominates the town in a perfect defensive position. The first castle was built in the 11th century and became a royal residence in 1565 when Mary Queen of Scots was secretly here married to Lord Darnley. Their son, who was to become James VI of Scotland and James I of England, was baptised in the chapel. The current buildings are some of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland.
William Wallace Monument
Stirling has been fought over many times during the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1297, William Wallace drove the English from Perth and defeated them at Stirling Bridge. His monument, a 220-ft (67-m) tower on Abbey Craig, is clearly visible from the town to the northeast. In 1314 a famous victory was won by Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn, 2 miles (3 km) to the south. Stirling surrendered to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, although the castle withstood his initial assault.
The green flat land around the town, known as the 'carse', was once a wetland. It was here that Robert the Bruce lured the English heavy horse and knights to their defeat in the marshes.
The town was granted a Royal Charter by Alexander I, which entitled it to hold weekly markets and create merchant guilds. Stirling's famous Thistle Centre is now one of Scotland's best shopping malls. A wide range of hotels, accommodation and guest houses can be found in and around the town, along with several camping and caravan parks.
Stirling Mercat Cross © TAB
Stirling has many fine historic buildings. In Broad Street is Mar's Wark - the remains of a magnificent town house built in 1570 by the Earl of Mar. Beside it stands the 15th-c Church of the Holy Rood, where the infant son of Mary was crowned king in 1567.
At the bottom of Broad Street is a Mercat Cross, indicating that the street was once a market place. Opposite the cross stands the Tolbooth with its fine clock tower. Built in 1704, it was formerly both a town hall and jail.
Argyll's Lodging is a mansion built in 1630 by William Alexander, the first Earl of Stirling. It was transferred to the Marquis of Argyll in 1655.
Stirling University stands on a fine campus on the road to Bridge of Allan, just north of the town.
Spectacular walking country can be found within just a few miles of the town centre.
Attractive 17th-c Renaissance town-house built by the 1st Earl of Stirling in 1630. However, it takes its name from the 1st Marquis of Argyll, a later owner.
Located two miles south of Stirling, Bannockburn is the place where Robert the Bruce defeated the English armies, thereby guaranteeing Scotland's independence.
The oldest parts of the castle date from the 11th-c although most of the current buildings are much later. The Royal Palace was built by James V in the 16th-c, its ornate stonework was carved by French masons.
Within is a fascinating collection of carved oak medallions from the ceiling of the king's presence chamber, known as the Stirling Heads. The upper rooms of the palace house the Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Originally Cowane's Hospital, Built in 1639, as an almshouse for members of the Merchant Guildry of Stirling. It became the Guildhall dating the 18th century.
James VI was crowned here in 1567. The nave has a fine timbered roof. The church was restored in the 1930s and a wall which had partitioned the kirk into two separate churches, east and west, due to a theological dispute in 1656, was removed.
Part ruined mansion built around 1570 for the Earl of Mar. He was the keeper of Stirling Castle and Regent of Scotland during the minority of James VI.
This elaborate knot garden below the castle was laid out in the 1620s. It is thought that the octagonal centrepiece featured in tournaments held here.
A fine Victorian art gallery and museum endowed by Thomas Stuart Smith.