Reykjavik was cemented as the capital city of Iceland (and thus the northern most capital city in the world) around 1845 after the Alþingi parliament moved to the city from its previous home at Þingvellir national park. The city is a hub of culture, history and social activity that make it a facinating place to visit and an even more facinating place to get to know.
The name "Reykjavik" vaguely translates as the 'Smokey bay' and it got that name from the amount steam generated by the various geothermal pools in the area. Reykjavik is believed to be the first official settlement made on the Island. It was settled upon via an old norse method whereby the captain of the vessel (Ingólfur Arnarson) would cast his high seat pillars off the side of the boat and then settle where ever they washed ashore. Though many find this story a little dubious today this is how the tale is told in the Landnamabok, an Icelandic book detailing the settlement of Iceland in great detail, and the pillars can be found in the town today...
Reykjavik today features a vibrant tourism scene, people from all around the world flock to the city to learn more about the Icelandic people and their way of life. When they get here they are greeted to a city filled with interesting archetecture, facinating people and a vibrant social scene. Some highlights of the city include: Hallgrímskirkja, Harpa, Perlan, The old Harbour, The sun voyager, Grandi, Grotta, the city pond and much more besides.
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran chuch founded in 1945 and consecrated in 1986. It is one of the largest structures in the whole of Iceland, standing at 244 feet from base to spire. Due to its position at the top of the largest hill in the city, the church can be seen from almost any point across Reykjavik making it an easy marker to help you navigate. Its height has another advantage too as for small cost you are able to climb to the top of the tower and get an amazing view of the surroundings.
Harpa is difficult to miss as the large glass building has quickly become a defining feature of the city and its coastline. Opened in 2011 the building serves as a concert hall and conference center. The Geometric glass outter walls were designed in such a way as to resemble the bassalt collumns that dot the southern coast. Since it's construction the buillding has not only housed a number of performances and musicians but has also appeared in popular culture a number of times. It has featured in shows such as Sense 8 and Black Mirror.
The old harbour is one of the key defining areas of Reykjavik, housing a number of surprises for both tourists and locals to enjoy. Here you will find the aforementioned Harpa concert hall which has regular musical performances and plays, the Kolaportið indoor flea market which can house a treasure trove of Reykjavik’s past and of course the harbour itself which is home to a number of boats from commercial to military. Top Tip: for lovers of fresh fish the harbour also boasts numerous fantastic fresh fish resturants.
The Sun Voyager is another feature of the Reykjavik coastline that is popular to visit and is distinctive. This metalic sculpture seemingly depicts the skeleton of an old viking longship and was unveiled on the 18th of August 1990 as a way of celebrating the cities 200th birthday. What the sculpture actually is is under dispute though and many people interpret it simply as a dream vessel that symbolises light and hope.