The architecture of the palace is French in style but the statues that decorate the facades are based on engravings by a German, Hans Burgkmair. These statues are without precedent in Scotland. Each facade presents its own complete, integrated tableau.
On the south facade a series of soldiers stand on the parapet and there are full size figures between the windows on the first floor. These figures include James V himself, St. Micheal and several other planetary deities and also, the Devil.
The statues on the east and north facades were intended to impress members of the court as they approached the entrance to the royal presence. Above the parapet are cherubs, some of them playing musical instruments. The parapet is drained by lion -headed waterspouts. Beneath them are angels, divine protection for the royal family.
The north-east corner of the palace is dominated by a statue of James V himself. Here he is crowned by a Scottish lion, adopting an elegant pose, beneath his foot, a lion couchant, heraldic symbol of the king of England.
Near James stand the Classical deities Saturn and Venus. Beside him is Ganymede, cup-bearer to the gods. He is here the symbol of the golden age ushered in by James's accession to the throne. The figure of Abundance above the entrance to the palace showers the fruits of his justice upon the king's visitors.