I have to admit, I get a certain thrill (okay, I totally geek-out) when I get to visit a place that I've seen on the big screen — Rosslyn Chapel did not disappoint.
Made famous in the film version of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code, this ornately carved church overlooks the beautiful rolling hills of rural Scotland at the edge of the town of Roslin.
After wandering thorough the modern visitor centre, you will find yourself inside the thick stone walls of the church grounds. The building itself is oddly multi-coloured and the carvings along the outside are eerie and covered in cobwebs. There are no photos permitted inside the church which assaults the senses with all of it's textures and carvings. Don't forget to look up — the ceiling is spectacular!
The chapel was built in the mid-15th century for William St Clair, the third Earl of Orkney, and what sets it apart from other churches created at the time is the ornately carved interior. While there are the expected biblical figures, angels, vines and flowers, the architecture is also full of mason symbolic imagery. There is more than one carving representing the pagan "Green Man", and other figures that are associated with the Knights Templar and the Freemasons. One carving that still confuses scholars is of a plant from the Americas that predates Columbus' voyage to the New World.
The fact that all of these symbols are found in one place has led some researchers to believe that Rosslyn is some sort of secret Templar repository or meeting place, and that hidden vaults beneath the chapel could contain anything from the Holy Grail (Dan Brown clearly knew his history) to the body of Christ himself!
The chapel's appearance in The Da Vinci Code has only fuelled the conspiracy theorists, and the once sleepy chapel has now become a major tourist destination. It is located 7 miles south of Edinburgh's city centre. Visit the official website for more information.