Reykjavík is Iceland’s largest city and capital. It covers an area of one hundred and six square miles and has a population of over one hundred and twenty thousand people. This city is situated in the southern portion of Iceland and is located on Faxafloi Bay. Since it is located just south of the Arctic Circle, the city experiences only four hours of sunlight each day during the winter and almost twenty-four hours of sunlight during the summer months.
It is believed that Reykjavík is where the first permant colony on Iceland was located. This colony was established in the ninth century by Ingolfur Arnarson. Though this colony was established early on, there was no permanent urban settlement here until the eighteenth century with the official founding of the city in 1786. Once it was founded however, the city took on an important role as a center of trade and it experienced a rapid period of development.
During the nineteenth century, thoughts of independence permeated throughout the country. This independence movement knew that a strong Reykjavik was central to that objective. During the middle of the nineteenth century, the general assembly was relocated to the city and the city was made the capital of the country.
Today, the city is the financial capital of the country and several large corporations are based here such as:
- Islandsbanki Bank
- Siminn Telecommunications
- Baugur Group Investments
- Nyhrji IT Industries
- Frisk Software
- Kaupthing Bank
- Air Iceland
- Iceland Express,
- Crowd Control Productions
- Birtíngur and Iceland Refund.
The educational needs of the population of Reykjavík is provided by several secondary schools and universites. These include Menntaskolinn Reykjavík, Menntaskólinn vio Sund, Verzlunarskoli Islands, Iceland Academy of the Arts, The University of Iceland and Reykjavík University.
The city enjoys a great tourism industry and this is bolstered by several attractions located within the city. One of the most prominent attractions is the Icelandic Parliament House named Alpingishusio. Alpingishusio is a beautiful nineteenth century build which is located next to the Austurvollur. This building was designed by the Danish architect Ferdinand Meldahl and erected in 1881. The most visited location in the city is the Blue Lagoon.
This is a geothermic spa that is formed from various lava formations. The Blue Lagoon is situated in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is located approximately eight miles from the Keflavík International Airport and fifteen miles outside of Reykjavík. The waters have high mineral content and their are reputed to help those suffering from skin diseases. The average temperature of the water in the baths are about one hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
Another prominent attraction to visit in Reykjavík is a Lutheran church named Hallgrímskirkja. Hallgrímskirkja stands over two hundred and forty feet high and is the sixth largest structure in Iceland and the largest church in the country. The design of the church was commission in the late 1930s, but it wasn’t completed until 1986. This church is the most recognizable structure in
the city and its main feature is the large pipe organ that is located within it. Its a mechanical pipe organ that has over five thousand pipes, one hundred ranks, seventy-two stops and four manuals. The organ is forty-five feet tall and weighs in excess of twenty-five tons. The organ was officially completed in 1992. A secondary feature of this church is its observation deck. Visitors can ascend to the observation tower via a lift and get a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains, as well as the city itself.
The Arbaejarsafn Museum is another place to visit in the city during your stay. This museum is the official museum of the city and is also a regional museum. Its main purpose is to give the public a first hand view of the living conditions of the city during its early history.
This open air museum was founded in the summer of 1957 and features many historic buildings. Some of the buildings located there include Laugavegur 62, Landakot, The Professor’s House, Laufasvegur, Laekjargata 4, Suourgata 7, Dillon’s House, Líkn, Blacksmith’s House, Slaughterhouse, Nissen hut, Museum Church, a Granary, Boy Scout hut and a Smithy.
Another popular attraction in the city is Perlan. Perlan is one of the main landmark buildings of Iceland and stands over eighty-four feet high. It features over thirty thousand cubic feet of exhibition space and has a viewing deck that contains panoramic telescopes.
There are also a number of shops located within the building which includes a gourmet shop, Christmas shop and souvenir shop. At the top floor of the building there is a revolving restaurant that does a complete revolution in two hours. This gives diners a beautiful view of the city while they eat. Other features of Perlan include a cafeteria and a bar.
Also located in Reykjavík is the National and University Library of Iceland. This library was founded in 1994 and is the largest library in Iceland with a collection of over one million objects. It contains almost all the written works ever completed in Iceland and is also the main legal law depository in the country.
The main portion of the library covers an area of over one hundred and forty thousand square feet. Sections of the library include a reference section, the national collection, an audiovisual collection, an academic collection and a manuscript collection.