Before its formation into a town in the 18th century, Reykjavik had been inhabited for almost a millennium already. Legend has it that the first inhabitant was a sailor who threw his pillars into the sea and vowed to settle wherever they washed up, which happened to be in Iceland. In 1801 Reykjavik became the capital of Iceland, and in the mid-20th century saw a boon from the second World War that most countries did not, thanks to occupation of the countries by the Allied Nations. The city differs from many other Nordic metropolises, with is cozier spread of smaller buildings reminiscent of the coast of Canada rather than the heavy opulence of many European countries.
Meaning “Garden on a Hill”, Hólavallagarður Cemetery is often considered one of Iceland’s “largest and oldest museums”. The grounds contain a wide array of monumental sculptures and readings set within an ancient birch and rowan forest. The graves rest among over 100 different species of plants, including lichens and moss. Many notable Icelanders, including the leader of Iceland’s independence movement, Jón Sigurðsson, are buried here.
A gleaming modern mirrored building reflecting the rippling waters of the harbor, the Harpa Concert Hall and Cultural Center is home to many of the city’s best performers. Visitors can take a 45 minute tour of the hall or view one of the many shows presented int he venue, some at no charge. The building itself is an almost alien-appearing structure of glass, design by Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects, Icelandic firm Batteríið Architects, and Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The lobby holds boutiques and music stores, and a gourmet restaurant sits on the upper level.
At the 871±2 Museum, visitors can see the archeological ruins of Viking civilizations well over a thousand years old. One of the biggest exhibits, a Viking longhouse, was unearthed in the early 2000’s and contains the oldest man-made structure in Reykjavik. The museum combines live exhibits with technology to pain an in-depth picture of life in the early Medieval period. Other items on display include fish oil lamps, axes, awk bones, and spindles inscribed with runes.
At the Aurora Reykjavik: Northern Lights Center, the museum is dedicated to educating the public on the importance of the Northern Lights, not just in Icelandic Culture, but in other cultures as well. Visitors will see scientific explanations and presentations, as well as videos and slideshows of the event. Local Icelandic photography of the phenomenon is also on display, and you can learn how to adjust your own camera to be able to capture the best pictures of the Lights.
Experience Reykjavik on Your Next Luxury Cruise With Windstar
Dramatic scenery and curious communities coalesce on this week-long circumnavigation of Iceland. Explore a country few people will ever visit, and go far beyond the tourist hotspots to remote fjords, raging waterfalls, and small fishing villages. Get to know the independent and creative Icelanders, and watch whales and seabirds play offshore. This is yachting at its most inventive.
Come play in a world of vivid natural wonders as an explorer by day and a welcomed guest aboard our luxury yacht by night. You choose the adventures you wish to sample, when and where you want to dine and how to spend your days. Embark on our newly refurbished sailing yachts to the Caribbean or newly refurbished all-suite yachts to Panama Canal and Costa Rica. From the moment you step aboard, you’ll feel the warmth, comfort and casual luxury of a private yacht with an uncrowded, relaxed atmosphere, beautifully appointed staterooms, access to the Watersports Platform, a regionally focused culinary experience and heartfelt, intuitive service.
Exploring Europe by way of a Windstar small ship cruise means the journey is as magical as the destination. From the moment you step onboard our newly refurbished all-suite or sailing yachts you’ll experience the warmth, comfort and casual luxury of a private yacht with an uncrowded, relaxed atmosphere, beautifully appointed staterooms and heartfelt, intuitive service. The experience unfolds just as you desire – with the freedom to create your own adventure.
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