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The castle, in the care of Historic Scotland, is Scotland's most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 1.4 million visitors in 2013.As the backdrop to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo during the annual Edinburgh International Festival the castle has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh and of Scotland and indeed, it is Edinburgh's most frequently visited visitor attraction—according to the Edinburgh Visitor Survey, more than 70% of leisure visitors to Edinburgh visited the castle.Excavations at nearby Dunsapie Hill, Duddingston, Inveresk and Traprain Law had revealed relatively large settlements and it was supposed that these sites had been chosen in preference to the Castle Rock.

Few of the present buildings pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th century, when the medieval defences were largely destroyed by artillery bombardment.

Its importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half.

As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

The most notable exceptions are St Margaret's Chapel from the early 12th century, which is regarded as the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Royal Palace and the early-16th-century Great Hall, although the interiors have been much altered from the mid-Victorian period onwards.

The castle also houses the Scottish regalia, known as the Honours of Scotland and is the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland.

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