I fell in love with Old Town Edinburgh at first sight, this narrow stairway burrowing through a building. This was my first glimpse of a "close."
Closes and wynds are Scottish terms for alleyways. There are plenty along the Royal Mile, the street running from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace (the place where the Queen stays when in Scotland). Some are entrances to tenement buildings. Others serve as connectors between the Royal Mile and parallel streets, such as Cowgate and East Market Street.
World's End Close, so named because it was the last close before the old city gates--the "end of the world" for some of the residents of Old Town, who did not ever venture beyond the city gates. This particular close has been around since at least the 15th century.
Old Tolbooth Wynd, built in 1591.
Striking clock and turret on the building through which Old Tolbooth Wynd passes.
In 1861, some tenements along the Royal Mile collapsed without warning. While people were clearing the wreckage, they heard a voice, "Heave awa' chaps, I'm no dead yet." Joseph McIver was pulled out. Paisley Close was built in place of the tenements and a monument to McIver erected at the entrance, with his quote memorialized for all to see.
Looking down a close. I'm guessing this one would take you down to Market Street.
This site provides some interesting information on the closes and wynds of the Royal Mile.