AN OLD Town attraction that reveals the Capital’s hidden past is celebrating its busiest year yet.
The Real Mary King’s Close, which has scooped a host of awards, has seen an increase of 11 per cent in visitor numbers from last year.
Staff at the spooky history tour are jumping for joy after tallying up 250,000 guests during 2017-18.
The social history tour marked the occasion by treating three lucky visitors to a free tour, goody bags, as well as a bottle of bubbly.
Since the attraction first opened its doors in 2003, more than 2.5 million people have been able to walk in the footsteps of Mary King and the close’s other residents as visitors rediscover the real history and stories of its preserved streets and spaces.
The Royal Mile attraction was originally intended to cater for 60,000 visitors each year - but the popularity of the site has seen the number of guests soar as tourists and locals pass into the underground location for a glimpse of the city’s past.
Craig Miller, general manager of The Real Mary King’s Close, said: “Welcoming our 250,000th guest was a huge achievement for the team at The Real Mary King’s Close.
“As the attraction continues to develop, this year will see us launch some exciting new experiences.
“We are planning for more growth and attracting even more guests from around the world.”
The Real Mary King’s Close has benefited from significant investment over the years. The revamp of the attraction has included its entrance on the Royal Mile, as well as upgrades to the tour route - which bosses believe offer a better customer experience.
Juliana Delaney, CEO of Continuum Attractions, said: “The ongoing success of The Real Mary King’s Close demonstrates the power of the magic of the real.
“Real people and real stories in a memorable place, wrapped in great service.
“I commend the work of the fantastic team at the attraction, as well as that of our industry partners, for taking The Great Mary King’s Close from strength to strength.”
The tour allows guests to be transported back to Edinburgh in the 17th century as characters donned in full costume lead visitors on an hour-long trek through the preserved streets and spaces. Visitors can gauge how life would have been for the Capital’s people when the now-underground streets were open to the skies.
In the 17th century, all social classes lived together, with homes stacked on top of each other in tenement buildings that are said to have been the world’s first skyscrapers.
The close takes its name from Mary King, who was a merchant burgess who lived there during the 17th century. It was partially demolished and buried underground due to the construction of the Royal Exchange in the 18th century before being sealed off and closed to the public until it was reopened in 2003.
New research has found a number of narrow streets with tenements on each side.