Kirkwall is Orkney's main town. Located on Mainland Orkney by Kirkwall Bay, its name comes from the old Norse language meaning “church bay.”
It is not a large town. The population is about 9,000 people. The atmosphere recalls another less complicated time.
The town's principal attractions are the Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace and the Earl's Palace. In addition, there is an Orkney Museum as well as shops and pubs.
St. Magnus Cathedral
The Bishop's Palace
The Earl's Palace
Across from the Bishop's Palace are the remains of the Earl's Palace, considered one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Scotland. This structure was built around 1600 for Patrick Stewart, Second Earl of Orkney. An illegitimate cousin of King James VI of Scotland (who was also James I of England), "Black Padie" had a reputation for violence, cruelty and living beyond his means. His plan was to incorporate the Bishop's Palace into his own palace. However, debt forced him to return the Bishop's Palace to the bishop. After Patrick's arrest for treason, his son Robert seized both palaces. An army was sent to capture him and the two places were reduced to ruin during the siege.
Cruise destination - Scotland - Orkney - Kirkwall