In the heart of Kirkwall are located the ruins of 2 fortified medieval and renaissance residences: the Earl's Palace Kirkwall and the Bishop Palace. Today you can walk around, imagine the lifestyle and learn about their turbulent history.
Navigate back to the complete Travel Scotland Guide
Earl's Palace Kirkwall Video
Let's start with a short video of my visit to the Bishop and Earl's Palace Kirkwall:
INFO & PLANNING TIPS - Earl's palace Kirkwall
The Earl's Palace Kirkwall and the Bishop palace are what remain of the Orkney's beautiful medieval and renaissance residences. Located right next to the St Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall, they are the center of the Orkney capital.
The Earl's Palace Kirkwall
The Earl's Palace was built around 1601 to 1606 by Patrick Stewart, earl of Orkney. He wanted a new complex incorporating the older Bishop Palace (but it never happened). He wanted to impress.
Although a beautiful piece of architecture, the people of Orkney consider it as a memorial to the dark period that was the ruling of the Stewart Earls.
Below is a drawing of what it may have been if the construction has been completed:
From the outside you can still see the refined facade:
Exploring the Earl's Palace
There are 2 main sections to explore in the Earl's palace Kirkwall.
First you use the large Staircase to discover the impressive Great Hall and its 5 meter wide fireplace. It is said that the Great Hall used to be one of the finest rooms in any castle in Scotland due to its length of 16 meter, vaulted windows and fireplaces. It used to be heavily decorated.
Structure of Earl's Palace Kirkwall
But my favorite part was the ground floor. I loved the long corridor with the old stones and series of small rooms. There is a special atmosphere in this section.
In the last one they have set up historical displays with explanation about the Earls and the history of the Palace.
Then you can cross the street to visit the Bishop's Palace Kirkwall. It was built around the same time as the St Magnus Cathedral, at the beginning of the 12th century.
I was modified al lot through history, especially in the 16th century.
What remains today is the 2-story hall house (although inside only the ground floor remain) and the tower.
Tower of Kirkwall Bishop Palace
The most interesting part of the Bishop Palace Kirkwall is that you can access the top of the Tower from which you have a nice view of the town of Kirkwall and the St Magnus Cathedral. Definitively the best part of this visit.
Want to see more of SCOTLAND?
Discover more things to do & places to see in my Travel Scotland Destination Guide.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
Love sharing? Here is another pin for you: