Top 10 Saga things to do in Reykjavik
For the Saga-Enthusiast visiting Reykjavik we present a top ten Saga trip through Reykjavik!
Nr. 10: The Settlement Exhibition - 874 +/-2
874 +/-2 in the city centre is a great place to start. It’s an on-site exhibition of a 10th century Viking hall discovered in 2001. The title refers to a layer of ash that pinpoints the age of the ruins to the year 874 give or take two years.
Nr.9: The Saga Museum
A few minutes walk from Reykjavik Center is the hip “Grandi” neighbourhood. From there you get a great view across the bay to Snæfells-Glacier, the home of the unlucky Saga hero Bard and there you’ll also find the beloved ice-cream parlour Vald-is and The Saga Museum - Iceland's Madame Tussauds. The exhibition has several Saga Heroes rendered in glorious latex detail and dressed to kill.
Nr.8: The National History Museum
From Grandi take a walk through “Vesturbærinn” or “West-town” to The National History Museum. Here you’ll find real Viking swords, or what’s left of them. It has a standing exhibition on the settlement of Iceland and this summer (2016) there is a special exhibition entitled “The woman in blue”. It covers an excavation of a “Kuml” or Viking-age grave. In it lay a 160cm woman, apparently born in Scotland, wearing Mediterranean beads and a blue cloak. Here is a video of the woman’s jaw bone being moved between glass jars: http://www.thjodminjasafn.is/media/syningar/Kjalkinn---endanlegt.mp4 - The museum also has a nice cafe, ideal for lunch.
Nr.7: Leif the Lucky
From the National museum walk through Hljómskáli-Park and up the hill towards Hallgrim’s church. In front of the church is a statue of Leif the Lucky (who found America - but lost it again…), given to the Icelandic People by the United States of America in 1930. If you’re there on the 9th of October it’s happy Leif Eriksson day!
P.s. here is a comprehensive overview of all the statues of Leif Eriksson in the world, if you ever need one... http://www.vanderkrogt.net/leiferiksson/index.php
Nr.6: Einar Jonsson Art Museum
Across the street from the statue of Leif is the “Einar Jonsson” art museum. Einar was a sculptor who worked with themes from the Sagas and the Eddas. The museum is designed by him and was his home and studio too. Behind the museum is a garden full of his works, a great place for a quiet Saga-stroll.
Nr.5: The Saga Hero neighbourhood
Take a walk in the Saga Hero neighbourhood. Grettir's street and Niall’s street are among the oldest streets in Reykjavik and some of the houses even have faintly Saga-themed decorations…
Nr.4: Get your Saga portrait at Mink Studios
Head down to Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s main shopping street, and turn right on Smiðjustígur. Stop by at Mink Studios and get your very own Saga portrait!
Nr.3: The Culture House
Visit the Culture house or Safnahúsið which often offers exhibitions related to the Manuscripts and the sagas. (This summer however they’re exhibiting the stuffed body of the last Great Auk, a big flightless bird native to Iceland that was hunted to extinction in the early 19th century.)
Nr.2: Ingólfur Arnarson
Then head down to Eagle-Hill or Arnarhóll where you’ll find a statue of Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler of Iceland who gave Reykjavik it’s name “Smoky-bay” because of the geothermal steam he saw rising from the ground.
Nr.1: Icelandic Sagas - The Greatest Hits
Right across the street from Ingólfur on his Eagle-Hill is the Harpa Concert hall, a Reykjavik landmark worth a visit just for the spectacular architecture - but this illuminated glass dome is also the home of the very fantastic theatre show "The Icelandic Sagas - Greatest hits”. In 75 minutes you’ll be thrilled, amazed and intrigued by the Icelandic Sagas - retold by two great actors in English. Don’t miss it - book your tickets now!
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