Northernmost capital of the world - Reykjavik

Capital city of Iceland is Reykjavik, which is located at  64°N and is therby the most northern capital in the whole world. Reykjavik is also the biggest city in the country with the population of only 120 000, but still, it represents about half of the country's inhabitants!
What is worth checking out in Reykjavik?
  • Harpa
Concert hall Harpa is rather new addition to Reykjavik's skyline. Built in 2011 and located right next to the Atlantic it reminded us a bit of Philharmonic hall in Hamburg, Germany. Recently Harpa also won prestigious architectural award: Mies van der Rohe award.

Contemporary architecture - Harpa
Architectural explanation: Harpa music hall is the first building in a project of revitalization of eastern harbour in Reykjavik. It is situated on the main point in the city, where city life connects with the ocean. Most interesting part of the building in its glass facade which consists of many thousands windows with LED lights. Those can change the colour depending on the time of the day or year. Interior is quite simplistic with myriad of windows on one side and black concrete on the other.

Harpa's interior
  • Perlan
On the other side of the city another majestic building can be seen. Parlan (meaning the pearl) has six enormous reservoirs for water, each with capacity of 4 million liters and with the purpose of storing fresh water in case of natural catastrophe. In the past years this old and rather ugly building got new look: Huge glass dome was added on the top of the reservoirs and is not one of the main tourist attractions with 360° views over the city and great dining.

Model of the Perlan
  •  Nordic House
Nordic House is one and only work of famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in Iceland. It was build to connect Iceland with other Nordic nations. The library has mostly Nordic books, bistro serves modern Nordic food, small shop sells Nordic design and a museum is meant to hold exhibitions about Nordic countries.
Nordic House on the left
Architectural explanation: for architecture lovers library would be the most interesting room in the house. It is very bright, full of natural light with small, but cozy corners to read. Interesting is also approach, how one enters the library: the entry is in the round level, but then the library opens two storeys down.
All the furniture in the house was designed by the architect and he put human's needs before the price. Therefore all the materials that can come in direct contact with a visitor (e.g. all the handles) feel warm.

Library in the Nordic House
  •  Museums
In general Iceland is known for many unusual museums. Reykjavik offers besides the typical museums (like national history museum, national art gallery ...) also many others, like Icelandic Punk Museum, which is in former public toilets, Whales of Iceland museum, where a real sized whale can be seen. Probably the weirdest museum is  Icelandic Phallological Museum, simply know as the museum of penises ... and the list goes on :)

Entrance to the Punk museum
  • Flea market
Flea market is the place to go on Saturday or Sunday. This is where you can try all the Icelandic food (including hakarl, the fermented shark and some more tasty sweets), you can buy typical Icelandic sweater -  lapopeysa here or if you just want to stroll around and have a look at what people are sellin ... it's definitely worth going.

Hakarl - who is brave enough to try it?
Katarina is trying dried fish
Icelandic sweaters, price: from 100€ on!
  • Parliament building Alþingishúsið
The funny thing about this building is that it used to be Danish royal residence until 1944, when Iceland proclaimed independence and separated from Denmark. Now it houses Icelandic parliament but the Danish royal crown is still on the facade and it doesn't seem to bother anyone :)

Icelandic parliament house with Danish royal crown on the facade
  • Hallgrimskirkja
Hallgrimskirkja is the biggest church in Iceland and with its 73m high tower also among the highest buildings in the country. Interesting fact for us was that it is dedicated to Icelandic poet Hallgrimur Pettursson and not to some saint, as it is typical in our country. Rather modern exterior resembles basalt columns and lava flow, while interior is very bright but also very simplistic - another characteristic of Luthern churches. Besides magnificent organs (which are being cleaned all the time and therefore rarely played :)) there is not much more: no paintings, no sculptures ... But is still very nice.
Icon of Reykjavik
Although Reykjavik is capital city and also biggest city in Iceland it doesn't feel like it. For us it felt more like a bigger village :) The atmosphere is very pleasant, but very local as well. However it is worth stopping in the city for a day, even half a day is enough to see the main sights.

Reykjavik - more of a village than a big city.
Swamp in front of the campus in Reykjavik



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