Reykjavik is the capital of whichever country
On this page you will find a small city guide with an overview of the development of the Icelandic capital into a metropolis as well as information on the most important sights and accommodation options. In a separate picture gallery you will find numerous photos from the Icelandic capital with further information on the respective sights.
Development of the city
When the Viking Ingólfur Arnason heard of a land in the west over the sea in the ninth century AD, he decided to leave Norway, which was less peaceful at the time, and settle in Iceland. During the crossing he had loaded the pillars of his house from Norway, on the ends of which, as was customary at the time, the head of the Germanic god Thor was carved. According to the custom of the time, Ingólfur threw the raised pillars into the water off the coast of Iceland to boil at the point where they were washed ashore. In the first few years Ingólfur settled on an offshore island in the southeast of Iceland. This still bears his name today and is called Ingólfshöfði. However, after a few years, Ingólfur's slaves discovered the perch pillars in a bay further west. Because of the steaming springs in the distance, Ingólfur gave it the name Rauchbuch - Reykjavík. This was the beginning of the settlement of Iceland in the year 874 and Ingólfur Arnason is considered to be the first permanent settler on the North Atlantic island.
In the centuries that followed, Reykjavik did not play a major role in the history of the country. It was not until 1786 that Reykjavik was granted city rights, although the settlement only had 170 inhabitants at that time. After the Icelandic parliament “Althing” was initially dissolved in 1800 and reinstated in 1843 in the course of Iceland's independence movement and relocated to Reykjavik, today's capital gained in importance. In the 19th and especially the 20th century, there was a rapid upswing into a metropolis. In 1910, only around 15,000 people lived in the greater Reykjavik area. By 1950 there were already over 65,000 inhabitants. Today the capital region has around 222,000 people, around 125,000 of whom live directly in Reykjavik. The suburb of Kópavegur has around 36,000 and Iceland's third largest city Hafnafjörður around 29,000 inhabitants. Another 32,000 people live in other localities. Around 64% of the Icelandic population live in the greater Reykjavik area.
Reykjavik was in the headlines of the world press especially in 1986, when US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet party leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in the Höfði house to negotiate disarmament treaties. In 2000 Reykjavik was the European Capital of Culture.
The symbol of the city is the Hallgrímskirkja. Construction of the church began in 1945. But it was only inaugurated in 1986. With 1,200 seats, it is the largest church in Iceland. The bell tower is 73 m high and offers a beautiful view over Reykjavik. Are also worth seeing Dómkirkjan, the city lake Tjornin and the new one town hall, on the ground floor of which there is a large, three-dimensional map of Iceland. All these sights are located in the old town and can be easily reached in a few minutes on foot.
Perlan is the name of a large glass dome that sits enthroned on four hot water containers (content: 24 million liters of 85 ° C hot water) on a hill on the outskirts of the city. The somewhat futuristic building is Reykjavik's second landmark after Hallgrimskirkja. A Viking museum has now been set up in one of the hot water tanks. Perlan also houses a winter garden with palm trees, a restaurant and a cafeteria. The dome rotates 360 ° within an hour. From here you also have a beautiful view over Reykjavik and the surrounding area.
Not far from Perlan is Iceland's only beach by the sea with the name Ylstrand. It is also the northernmost bathing beach in the world. With the help of hot springs, the sea water in the beach area is heated up in an environmentally friendly way, allowing the residents of the North Atlantic island to bathe in the sea.
Anyone walking through the center of the city should of course also visit the harbor, which is only a few meters away from the old town. The large container ships usually dock at Sundahöfn harbor further east. There are corresponding cranes for loading the containers. In the old port near the old town, visitors will find mostly fishing ships. But the large cruise ships also dock here during their voyage through the North Atlantic. Incidentally, the steam locomotive on display on the harbor promenade is a replica of the former harbor railway that was used to build the harbor and was in operation until 1928. It was the only railway that still existed in Iceland to this day. However, a rail link is now planned between Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavik Domestic Airport.
Some organizers offer two-hour city tours. If you have a little more time, you should discover Reykjavik on your own and also visit some museums and exhibitions, such as this National Museum or the open-air museum Árbærjarsafn. We also recommend visiting the Volcano Show. The volcano filmmaker Villi Knudsen shows films of eruptions of the Hekla, Krafla, Askja and eruptions on the Westman Islands in his cinema. The cinema is located in Reykjavik's old town.
Accommodation in Reykjavik
For many tourists who come to Iceland by plane, Reykjavik is the starting point for their trip across the North Atlantic island. Therefore, the question of suitable accommodation often arises after arrival or before departure. There are numerous hotels in various price ranges in the city.
Compared to the Central European price level, the Hotels comparatively expensive. Many vacationers therefore prefer to stay overnight in one Guest house or in the Reykjaviks youth hostel in front. All known tour operators can offer the traveler a wide range of guest houses and other accommodation options. There are also a few in Reykjavik and the surrounding area Apartmentsthat can be booked from various organizers.
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