"Down in the Darkness: Underground Vaults Tours" Underground Tours Tip by JessH

Underground Tours, Edinburgh: 4 reviews and 10 photos

  Inside the Tavern for more ghost stories...
by JessH
  • Inside the Tavern for more ghost stories... - Edinburgh
      Inside the Tavern for more ghost stories...
    by JessH
  • Jared of Mercat Tours, Edinburgh (Oct. 2011) - Edinburgh
      Jared of Mercat Tours, Edinburgh (Oct. 2011)
    by JessH
  • Jared of Mercat Tours, Edinburgh, in action - Edinburgh
      Jared of Mercat Tours, Edinburgh, in action
    by JessH
  • Inside Megget's Cellar, Mercat Tours, Edinburgh - Edinburgh
      Inside Megget's Cellar, Mercat Tours, Edinburgh
    by JessH
  • Walking around Edinburgh at night... - Edinburgh
      Walking around Edinburgh at night...
    by JessH

On this, my second visit to Edinburgh, I really looked forward to finally seeing the famous underground city. For our group of 6 adults, I booked with Mercat Tours and we weren't disappointed!

The company offers different types of tours (historically accurate, purely fictional, legends & ghost stories, etc.) but on this visit we chose "Ghost & Ghouls". At £13.- per ticket (and this includes a complimentary drink in their "private" tavern - Megget's Cellar - afterward) we found this great value for money.

Our guide, Jared, was simply fantastic: theatrical, committed and just pure fun. He really got everyone involved in the tour - my husband was given the task of "security": walking behind the group to make sure nobody was snatched and dragged into any of the dark and gloomy closes of the old town...

I won't give you the full details and entire story of the tour here; after all: I wouldn't want to spoil the suspense for you! But let me just say that we were treated to various stories and legends of murderers, criminals and their unfortunate victims and how their lives (and souls...?) are still tied to the old cobbles and stone walls of the city.

As part of the tour, you are granted access to the underground Vaults of Edinburgh. This used to be the old city, until the "new" city was built on top. The vaults are a series of chambers in the 19 arches of the South Bridge, which was completed in 1788. For around 30 years, the vaults were used to house taverns, tradesmen and as storage space for smugglers. Poor people lived here and due to poor ventilation, no sanitation and no running water it was said that illness spread through the vaults like a wildfire, causing the citizens to move out and move on. Legends has it that many plague victims were simply locked in the vaults, effectively burying them alive. There is no proof for this, but it does make for some great stores of haunted rooms and catacombs!

My favourite part of the tour was actually the 20min or so at the end, when we all gathered in Mercat's private "Tavern" for a complimentary drink, and our guide Jared answered questions and kept us entertained with more spooky and blood-curdling stories.

Mercat offer different types of experiences, ranging from the strictly historical and informative, to the more "scary" type still dotted with actual facts, to the downright outrageously fun with actors jumping out of dark corners to scare you!
We really enjoyed our tour and when I return to Edinburgh I may book another of their tours for a new experience!

Address: Mercat House, 28 Blair Street, EH1 1QR Edinburgh
Phone: 0044(0)131-225 5445
Website: http://www.mercattours.com/

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2012
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