Proudly displaying portraiture of prominent Scots, a stroll through the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is like taking a walk through Scottish history, with the world’s most famous Scots immortalized in painting, photography, sculpture and film. These are the figures that have helped shape the country’s history, from Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie, to National poet Robert Burn and homegrown luminaries like Adam Smith and James Beattie. A 16th century painting of James IV of Scotland is the gallery’s oldest piece but contemporary heroes are also among those honored, with John Byrne’s Robbie Coltrane and Tilda Swinton portraits hung alongside those of singer Susan Boyle and actors James McAvoy and Sean Connery.
The National Gallery’s 19th century building is equally impressive, an imposing red sandstone structure designed by architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson in the style of the Doges Palace in Venice. Inside, the galleries range from grand halls to intimate viewing rooms, each equally atmospheric and adorned with ornate friezes, colorful murals and artful embellishments.
Admission is free, but a charge may be made for special exhibitions.