Reykjavik

We have two nights in Reykjavik. mainly to help us to adjust to the local time before we start driving.

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It has a latitude of 64°08′ N, making it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state, With a population of around 217,000 in the Capital Region, it is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic and governmental activity. Over two thirds of Iceland’s population live here.

Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which, according to Ingólfur Arnarson, was established in AD 874. Until the 19th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The park opposite Parliament House was once a cow paddock.

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The city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population, and governmental activities. It is reputed to be one of the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.

I was wide awake at 3.30 am and after trying to sleep a little longer, I eventually got out of bed and started the day. I was out early  to photograph the Sun Voyager – a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason which is located down by the bay. The Sun Voyager is described as a dreamboat, or an ode to the sun. It is one of the most photographed objects in the city.

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After breakfast back at the hotel, we walked up to Hallgrímskirkja, the Lutheran church of Hallgrímur. It is big enough to be a cathedral but I’m sure it is really just a very large parish church. At 74.5 metres high, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614–1674). It is situated in the centre of Reykjavík and is one of the city’s best-known landmarks. Its simplicity of design and clean architectural lines are very different to the large and elaborate Catholic and Anglican churches that we find in other parts of Europe. I really prefer the design of churches like this one.

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The church was designed to resemble the volcanic rocks, lava flows, mountains and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape. Construction was started in 1945 and it took 41 years to complete. The landmark tower was completed long before the whole church was completed. From the top of the tower you get a good view over the city. Reykjavik is a low rise city with colourful buildings that are mostly only two or three stories high.

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There are some new multi storey apartments along the front of the bay and they contrast with the traditional style of buildings. Many of the traditional buildings are made with corrugated iron, an inexpensive and quickly erected construction medium.

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I always like the way people in the Scandinavian and Nordic countries use small pots and baskets of flowers in, and around, their properties in summer. They are often only small but they add a very elegant touch of colour to a doorway or a window.

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Down in the harbour I could see two cruise ships. That explains the large numbers people in the streets today. There were also a a large number of the fleet of Coastguard ships. These are about as big as a frigate and much larger than a patrol boat. They performed actively agains the British in the Cod War of the ear/ly 1960’s. Iceland is still a whaling country try and there were a number of whaler’s tied up to various wharfs in the harbour. 

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3 thoughts on “Reykjavik

  1. Why do contemporary high rise residential buildings look the same are without charm or pleasant aesthetics, and spoil the historic architecture the world over!!!! (rhetorical).

    You captured lot on your first day.

  2. Hi Wilsons, everything appears to have gotten off to a great start for you. . Certainly has in terms of your illustrated geog lessons for us. , VERY illuminating and entertaining.
    Travel certainly is the great educator.
    Please “keep dem cards an’ letters rollin in” .stay healthy. Jo and Donald.

  3. This is one trip I would love to have made. What a fabulous Lutheran church. Am enjoying your trip. Jan

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