A visit to the Royal Burgh of Culross

Stepping back in time in Culross

From my time working in Belgium in recent years, I’ve often heard of the town of Bruges referred to as a place where time has stood still. Where seemingly little has changed over the years, decades and centuries. I see the Fife village of Culross as Scotland’s Bruges. Smaller certainly and minus the chocolate and beer worth retiring for, but still an amazingly preserved 16th and 17th Century coastal haven.

The town’s top attraction is the Palace. Now, get that image of Buckingham Palace-esque buildings out of your mind immediately. Not that kind of Palace. More of an exceptionally nice large house. A house that belonged to Local Hero Sir George Bruce. A hugely successful merchant and engineer, he built this magnificent mansion with many of the materials he acquired throughout his travels. In addition to the distinctive external appearance, the intricate internal panelling and ceilings-that-tell-a-story make it one of the most impressive buildings in the region.

culross palace gardens

the square in culross

Coming in in second place is Culross Abbey. It’s not often you can actually ‘hear’ silence, but step through the doors of the abbey and listen for a second. Deafening. There is very much a Rosslyn Chapel feel to the interior. Tip-toe around exploring and you can find an effigy of Bruce inside as well. A recce of the grounds – in partial ruin – is also generously rewarded.

graveyard in culross abbey grounds

Culross makes a great additional stop to the East Neuk of Fife route and is a strangely calming little town. Many of the legions of tourist coaches that assault this coastline in summer seem to pass it by and the result is a very relaxed pace. The visual smack of the nearby Longannet Power Station we could do without but other than that, there is very little that I can ever imagine anyone wanting to change about the place. Which would explain why nobody ever has.

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