Kirkwall, Scotland: Urban Orkney – Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide – Travel Bite

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Rick Steves, America’s most respected authority on European travel, writes European travel guidebooks, and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio.

Orkney an archipelago of 70 islands has About 25 000 people the main island is Called confusingly mainland The vast majority of arcadians live in Kirkwall tidy and functional this town's Buildings are more practical than pretty Its pedestrians only main drag leads From the cathedral down to the harbor It's a work a day strip lined with Simple shops and busy with locals who All seem to know each other At the Harbor fishing boats Bob and Ferries fan out to nearby Islands Today's economy is based mostly on North Sea oil and fishing [Applause] The local pipe band brings a ready Distinctly Arcadian Groove to the town Center [Music] It's a toe tapping energy as everybody Gathers together [Music] Saint Magnus Cathedral Towers above the Town center with centuries of tombstones And its weathered red Sandstone it's a Reminder of a long ago era that shaped This Island's culture The church was built in the 12th century When orkney was ruled by Norway in fact It was part of a Norwegian Parish Norway Is just 170 miles across the sea the Vikings established orkney as a Trading Post in the 9th century and it stayed

Under Norwegian rule for 600 years That's why this culture feels more Scandinavian than Celtic the old Arcadian language many Town names and The folklore all Nordic stepping inside You're struck by the Stout and Harmonious Romanesque design with its Arcade of round arches leading to what Must have been an awe-inspiring High Altar in the Middle Ages [Music]

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