Lonely Planet review for Old Town
Below the castle, the steep Old Town has a remarkably different feel to modern Stirling, its cobblestone streets packed with 15th- to 17th-century architectural gems. Stirling has the best surviving town wall in Scotland. It can be explored on the Back Walk, which follows the line of the wall from Dumbarton Rd (near the tourist office) to the castle. You pass the town cemeteries (check out the Star Pyramid, an outsized affirmation of Reformation values dating from 1863), then the path continues around the back of the castle to Gowan Hill where you can see the Beheading Stone, now encased in iron bars to prevent contemporary use.
The Church of the Holy Rude has been the town's parish church for 600 years; James VI was crowned here in 1567. The nave and tower date from 1456, and the church has one of the few surviving medieval open-timber roofs. Stunning stained-glass windows and huge stone pillars create a powerful effect.
The Old Town Jail is a great one for kids, as actors take you through the complex, portraying a cast of characters that illustrate the hardships of Victorian prison life in innovative, entertaining style.