Kirkwall's town hall on Broad Street
Kirkwall's town hall on Broad Street
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  • Kirkwall's town hall on Broad Street
  • Tankerness House Gardens behind the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall
  • the Basin at Kirkwall pier
  • one of many liners that visit Kirkwall bay
  • christmas tree lighting at St Magnus Cathedral
  • Kirkwall's market green by the cathedral
  • Kirkwall's marina for local and visiting yachts
  • glassy waters at Kirkwall Harbour on a summer's night
Orkney Kirkwall

The capital of Orkney has vibrant independent shops and a lively night life in its many hotels and bars.  It is also a transport hub for bus routes across mainland Orkney and the port for ferries to Aberdeen, Shetland and the North Isles.  Kirkwall Airport with links to Scotland, Shetland and in the summer, Norway, is less than three miles from the town centre.

The main shopping street is a mecca for those who favour chain-free shops and it stocks everything you need from boutique fashions, designer brands and locally designed clothing to CDs and DVDs to jewellery, outdoor clothing, bread and cakes, linen, musical instruments, household goods and shoes. Privately owned grocery stores with personal service of a type that has largely disappeared elsewhere in Britain, stock local produce and international favourites.  Artisan bakeries, butchers, chemists, banks and several cafes add to the mix.  The picturesque long main street lined with flagstones snakes down from the harbour, changing its name from Bridge Street to Albert Street to Broad Street as it goes.

At its heart, on the Kirk Green stands the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral while nearby are the Earl's and Bishop's palaces and the Orkney Museum in Tankerness House with its splendid gardens.' Carrying on down narrow Victoria Street there are more shops and cafes.

On the edge of the ancient burgh there are three supermarkets and the Pickaquoy Centre with its fitness and health suites, outdoor sports pitches, a café, the New Phoenix Cinema and meeting rooms.  Orkney Islands Council is based in Kirkwall at School Place.  There is also an auction mart and industrial estate at Hatston.  There are several venues in the town for performance including a theatre, community and church halls, hotel function rooms and the Pickaquoy Centre.

Kirkwall dates back to Norse times, in the 11th century, when it was called Kirkjuvagr (church of the bay).  At that time the sea lapped at the steps of the cathedral, but now much land has been reclaimed.  In 1486 Kirkwall was granted Royal Burgh status by King James III of Scotland.

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STV Aberdeen - Flying to Kirkwall today? Or expecting someone back from Orkney? Well there might be a little delay to their flight http://t.co/X51zkPIuza
Robyn - @AvGeekSam Meant to be Kirkwall (Orkney) > Westray > Papa Westray - weather too bad to risk though. :-(
Scott Laing - #Kirkwall #Orkney #TravelPorn http://t.co/mkuaaMuwZO
Thomas B Macaulay - St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney.... Boreas domus mare amicus http://t.co/P0CKOi3T8H
OrkneyPolice - RT @bbcorkney: Police in Orkney are appealing for information on a theft from a yard at Hatston Farm in Kirkwall between Sunday... http://t?
BBC Radio Orkney - Police in Orkney are appealing for information on a theft from a yard at Hatston Farm in Kirkwall between Sunday... http://t.co/NNTD1Sfdtx
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Orkney TV referendum debate
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Fishing boat rescued 20 miles off Orkney coast
The coastguard helicopter from Sumburgh in Shetland was scrambled and the RNLI all weather lifeboat from Kirkwall in Orkney was also sent. A pump was lowered onto the Tranquility from the helicopter and pumps were transferred from the lifeboat when it ...
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Scottish independence: Carmichael promises more power for isles
Council leaders in Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides have been campaigning for local government to be given more control over island affairs in a campaign entitled "Our Islands Our Future." Continue reading the ... "We do very well as being part ...
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Fishing boat escorted into Kirkwall with pumps onboard
The Peterhead registered fishing boat, which was at the centre of an emergency when it started taking in water to the east of Orkney this morning, is now tied up at Kirkwall Pier. Kirkwall Lifeboat, with seven volunteer crew, was launched just before ...
The Orcadian