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Best Local History & Culture in Reykjavík

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Árbæjarsafn was founded in 1957. It is situated in Árbær, an old farm that used to be outside Reykjavik, but the city has grown and expanded so that this place is now within the city itself. When the museum was established, only farmhouses stood there but within the next years some old houses from Reykjavik's city center were moved up there and rebuilt. One of the museum's buildings is a church, built in 1842 and still used for religious ceremonies. As well as being an open-air museum, it also organizes exhibitions based on themes from the past. A case in point is an exhibition showing old cars and old garage tools. It is thought that the first settlers in Iceland built their houses in Reykjavik in 874. The museum is dedicated to Reykjavik's history from that day until the present day, showing artifacts representing the everyday life of Reykjavik's inhabitants over the period. For those wanting to get to know the history of Reykjavik, Árbæjarsafn is the best place to visit.

The National Museum of Iceland is the definitive historical and archeological museum of Iceland, illustrating the cultural tradition of this cold country's centuries of settlement. The permanent exhibit, titled 'Making of a Nation - Heritage and History in Iceland', depicts the history of Iceland, commencing from when the medieval settlers first arrived here to the modern day. The museum also features informative temporary exhibitions.

Explore the history of the city's early settlements at The Settlement Exhibition. The museum is based on an ancient Viking house that was discovered in 2001. There are many artifacts, objects, models and multimedia displays here that enunciate the first civilizations, their culture and lifestyle. You can also find here old photographs, manuscripts, archaeological findings and more. There is a museum shop from where you can buy souvenirs for keepsakes.

A scenic repository that pays tribute to Iceland's seafaring culture, the Reykjavik Maritime Museum is located along the city's harborfront. The museum is built into a former fish freezing factory unit, a plant that was originally built on the Grandi landfill. It explores the time-honored legacy of Iceland's fishing past, alluding to the time when early settlers depended heavily on fishing for livelihood. Over the years, fishing practices burgeoned into a larger industry, thus accelerating Iceland's prosperous growth over the years. The maritime museum also hosts a stunning nautical relic that was acquired in 2008, the former Coast Guard Vessel Óðinn. Fastened to the pier adjacent to the museum, this grand vessel served a prime role in all three Cod Wars between 1950 and 1970. Iceland's first steel ship Magni, also stands at the pier in resolute magnificence.

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