Skip to content

Or try searching by Category and/or Location

Fjarðabyggð - Culture and histoy

At the top of Hólmaháls, just above the road, is the grave mound of a Völva (prophetess) that has protected Reyðarfjörður and Eskifjörður from attacks from sea for centuries. Legend has it that Völva lived in Sómastaðir in the 17th century, and before she died, she asked to be buried where the best view of Reyðarfjörður was. She said that the fjords, Eskifjörður and Reyðarfjörður, would never be attacked from sea as long as her bones remained intact. Later, when the Turks came to the East Fjords, they intended to sail into Reyðarfjörður and plunder, but when they sailed to the mouth of the fjord, such a thick fog came towards them that they had to turn away.  The legend also says that as long as stones are regularly added to the grave, nothing terrible will happen in the fjords. 
The vicarage Kolfreyjustaður in Fáskrúðsfjörður dates back to the year 1878 many old and beautiful artifacts are there to be seen. The place swarms with stories and legends.  The troll Kolfreyja lends her name to the site and her fellow troll lived on the island of Skrúður.  
Heydalir (Eydalir)
There has been a vicarage at Heydalir since early Christianity in Iceland and several renowned vicars have served there through the ages. Among them was the vicar and hymn poet Einar Sigurðsson (17th century) whose poetry is still venerated among the nation. A pillar stone has been erected in his memory at Heydalir. The church that now stands in Heydalir was hallowed July 13th in 1975 and the old church was unchurched that same day. The old church was built in 1856 but it burned to the ground on June 17th, 1982. The name of the place is somewhat erratic; some people talk say Haydalir and Heydalir is mentioned in some of Iceland’s old Sagas. Others talk about Eydalir, especially older locals, and the vicar Einar Sigurðsson is associated with Eydalir. In the church´s record book, which has been in use since 1909, both names are used equally. Today the official name of this place is Heydalir. 
Breiðdalur central volcano is an ancient volanic area above Breiðdalur valley and Berufjörður. It was the object of extensive research carried out by the English geologist George D.L. Walker who made East-Iceland teritary volocanologic phenomenons the main object of his professional work. The Breiðdalur area of volcanism is set with rhyolithic-inserts producing the mainstay of majestic mountain range searating Breiðdalur and Berufjörður, e.g. Mt. Flögutindur, Mt. Smátindar, Mt. Röndólfur, Mt. Slöttur and Mt. Stöng. The southern side of the volanic formation is highly colorful and the instrusions assume an irregular aspect, set with tephra-layers. The site of the central volcano extends between Mt. Fossárfjall, south of Berufjörður to Mt. Bæjartindur, which towers above farm Þorgrímsstaðir in Breiðdalur. The western slope runs along Mt. Ófærunafir towards the west, whereas the eastern side - although highly eroded - extends east of Mt. Kerlingartindur, S-Breiðdalur. The southern region of Breiðdalur - the very centre of area - forms a basin where the excruciating heat has transformed the rock to such an extent that the basalt and the andestite have turned pale-green, making it problematic to tell them apart from the rhyolite. This can be clearly detected at river Innri-Ljósá Blágil ravine. The beforementioned chain of mountains was formed at a later date as the rhyolite wielded its way to the surface through the basalt layers, forming insertions on top of the massive tephra layers along the edges of the crater. Their remnants are visible in rhyolithic-rocks throughout the Breiðdalur region. This central volcano is considered to be of later date than its Álfta- and Reyðarfjörður counterparts. The Reyðarfjörður ignimbrite, a pyroclastic flow made as a burning hot mixture of about 430 km2 with a diameter of about 6 m. thickness. This layer is linked the Mt. Skessa south of Reyðarfjörður, best known as the Skessulag. The immense volcanism of the area has resulted in a great variety of rare minerals and semi-precious stones on display at Petra´s wonderful stone collection in Stöðvarfjörður and the Breiðdalur miniral museum in Breiðdalsvík.
The French Graveyard - le cimetiere francais
Just outside the Fáskrúðsfjörður town is a monument with the names of 49 French and Belgian sailors who died in Iceland. In 2009, representatives from the Association of Fishermen of Gravelines arrived at the French Days town festival and delivered new crosses for the graves of the French fishermen. Gravelines is an old fishing town on the north coast of France and the sister town of Fáskrúðsfjörður. During the French Days town festival, two wreaths of flowers are laid at the monument in the French graveyard in memory of the Icelandic and French sailors who have died at sea.
At Dalatangi, there are two lighthouses. The older one was built by the fishing operator Ottó Wathne in 1895. He paid for the lighthouse construction, which is made of basalt with stone glue in between. The Danish Lighthouse Institute then provided lighting fixtures, a kerosene lamp, and a mirror to amplify the light. Following the construction, the National Treasury took over the operation of the lighthouse. The younger lighthouse was built in 1908 and is still in use. The road to Dalatangi lies from Mjóifjörður town. It is not possible to drive further east in Iceland. At Dalatangi, there is an excellent view to the north, to Glettingur and into Loðmundarfjörður and Seyðisfjörður. Dalatangi has a weather station, and a regular observations have been made there since 1938.
Helgustaðanáma Hiking Trail
The Iceland spar mine in Helgustaðaland can be found on the way from Eskifjörður to Vöðlavík, and a footpath leads to it. Helgustaðanáma is an old Iceland spar mine in the land of Helgustaðir in Eskifjörður, which was protected as a natural monument in 1975. Helgustaðanáma is one of the most famous spar mines in the world, where spar was excavated from the ground from the 17th century until the first half of the 20th century. Most of the Iceland spar in museums around the world comes from the mine at Helgustaðir, but some of the largest and purest specimens of spar in the world were found in Helgustaðanáma. Iceland spar is a particularly clear crystal of the rock calcite, but the rock played a vital role in developing various studies on the properties of light. Today the Iceland spar is protected, and it is strictly forbidden to remove it from Helgustaðanáma.
Stórakerald and Tyrkjaurð
Historical mountain sites. Steðji is the name of the mountain that stands tall behind Stöðvarfjörður town. On the side of this characteristic mountain is Stórakerald, which is an unusually large ravine. Besides being an old route landmark, there are old tales of the residents in Stöðvarfjörður seeking refuge in Stórakerald and defending themselves by throwing stones at Turkish pirates, who made a foray in Iceland in the early 1700s. This tactic paid off, running the Turks out of Stöðvarfjörður and giving the rocky area in front of the ravine the symbolic name of Tyrkjaurð, or the Turkish scree.
Barkurinn - The Barque
At around 30 km in length, Reyðarfjörður is the longest of the East Icelandic fjords, and is almost 6 km wide. From it´s mouth, the fjord initially lies towards the northwest, then turnes west so as to shelter it´s inner areas from ocean swells. In many places below the shore there are aalso sharp drop-offs which make harbour conditions especially favourable. The area where the barque (barkurinn) is located is named Bakkagerðiseyri (eyri = gravel flats deposited by the stream running from the slopes above). The group of houses first built here gradually grew into the village of Búðareyri, through nowadays this village is usually just named after the fjord. Two Norwegian brothers, Otto and Fredrik Wathne, moved to Iceland near the end of the 19th century and built up trading and fishing operations which contributed to the growth of the village. The sunken Barque In 1884, the Wathne brothers had part of a barque sunk below Bakkagerðiseyri so that a wharf could be fastened to it which has ever since been known as Barkurinn. The Wathne´s soon added a warehouse, salting shed and even a store and residence on the low gravelly area, continuing business here until nearly 1905. However, nothing remains of all this apart from Barkurinn, and even it has been restored. The original barque can still be seen below the wharf when the sea is calm at low tide. By 1907, a road was opened over Fagridalur pass, and Barkurinn became one of the main shipping points for imports and exports from Fljótsdalshérað and Reyðarfjörður. For many years, a regional cooperative operated a considerable business at Reyðarfjörður, including at Bakkagerðiseyri. Activities were increased by the foreign occupation during World War II, with the military forces attempting to blast away the sunken barque, but giving up and rebuilding Barkurinn under the same name. Restoration of Barkurinn The condition Barkurinn was in before restoration began in 2010 - a once impressie structure that had seen better times. In 2010, the Fjarðabyggð Harbour Fund restored Barkurinn, re-building it partly above the barque, which can still be viewed on the sea floor below. The new wharf is solely meant for peasure - a site where residents and visitors can fish, read about the warf´s history and enjoy the scenery. What is a Barque? The large sailing ships called barques normally had three masts, which from the rear were the mizzenmast, mainmast and foremast. Historically, barques transported goods to and from Iceland, and once old and dilapidated were often considered handy as a base support for harbour structures. This involved sinking the barque to the bottom and fastening a wharf to it for the fishing industry and various other vessels.
Höskuldsstaðir is a farmstead of distinction, located in the south branch of valley Breiðdalur, close to highway no. one. A post office up to 1947 and a relay for the postmen on their way across Berufjöður pass. Höskuldsstaðir was the birthplace of the venerated scholar Dr. Stefán Einarsson, former professor at the John Hopkins University of Baltimore. Einarsson is remembered for his literary achievements as well as for his research in the sphere of the Icelandic language.
A lighthouse was first built at Streitishvarf in 1922 and it operated until 1958, when it was removed due to the building of a new lighthouse in Breiðdalsvík. The Streitisviti lighthouse operating today was built in 1984.  Streitishvarf is a great outdoor area, suitable for the whole family. A beautiful, short hiking trail offers a brilliant insight to the geological history of Austurland, especially the dikes that are characteristic for the area. Although the hiking trail is short, it is a great place to stop for a few hours; to play and enjoy the nature. 
Hafnarnesviti lighthouse is not the biggest one but is well worth the hike to get there. There was a small settlement on Hafranes. At some point, 100 people lived there, but most moved away early 20th century, and by 1970, it was completely abandoned. In 1939, the French Hospital was exported to Hafnarnes, and it stood there for about 70 years. The extensive building now forms the core of the French house cluster in Fáskrúðsfjörður.
Skrúður is an island in Fáskrúðsfjörður. It is surrounded by high cliffs and is accessible only to the bold and brave. There is a sizable cave on the island, which sailors occasionally used as a shelter when making their way southwards. Legends say three giant brothers were living in Austurland. One made his home in Skrúður, the second in Streitishvarf, and the third on Papey. The Skrúður dweller abducted his wife from the on-shore vicarage of Kolfreyjustaður; she was the local priest´s young daughter. Legends relating to their insular existence lived among the sailors who visited the island.  
Vattarnesiviti lighthouse is located on Vattarnes. There has been a lighthouse at Vattarnes since 1912 but the one standing today was built in 1957.  The Vattarnes peninsula is part of a beautiful coastline between Reyðarfjörður and Fáskrúðsfjörður. 
Statues and Memorials of Fáskrúðsfjörður town
Beautiful statues and memorials. the memorial of the scientist and polar explorer Dr. Charcot is located next to the Doctor´s House at Hafnargata 12. His ship, Pouguois Pas, sank in Straumfjörður in Mýrar in 1936. The memorial of Bergur Hallgrímsson. The memorial stands by the main road through the town, at Búðavegur 36. Bergur was a prominent businessman in the community and, at his time, one of the country´s well-known fisheries operators and herring processors. During the French Days, the Bergur Hallgrímsson Memorial Run takes place. Below Hamarsgata 8, the French erected a memorial for Carl A. Tulinius, who was the French consul in the latter part of the 19th century. The memorial was unveiled on August 28th, 1902.
Randulff´s Sea House is located by the sea in Eskifjördur. It is during the summer months 2011 and Randulff´s restaurant serves dinner according to a traditional local menu in a unique atmosphere. Randulff´s seahouse is also open for groups by arrangement. Randulff's Sea House is open during the summer from 12 - 21 every day of the week. The chefs have made a marvelous menu that focuses on fresh and local ingredients.   Randulff´s Sea House is a beautifully preserved shore-building towards the eastern end of Eskifjörður. Today this fine old house preserves both many artifacts and a lingering atmosphere from the days when the establishment of a herring fishery led to the first real growth of the fjord towns of East Iceland in the late 19th and early 20th century. Built by Norwegian Peter Randulff in 1890, it provided a station for landing and processing herring caught within the fjord through to 1930 when there was no longer sufficient herring coming into the fjord to sustain the fishery. When herring finally returned to the seas off East Iceland in the late 1950s the fishery involved large ships fishing further off-shore and landing their catches at ports like Siglufjörður, Húsavík, and Vopnafjörður in the north. As a result, for the next 75 years, this sturdy old sea-house remained closed. In 1980 The East Iceland Maritime Museum (Sjóminjasafn Austurlands) became a part-owner of Randulff´s sea-house leading to the restoration of both the exterior of the building and the adjoining jetty. In 2003 the society became the sole owner of the house and in 2008 was re-opened in co-operation with the nearby Mjóeyri guesthouse and tourism centre. It has since been available both as an extension of the excellent Eskifjörður maritime museum and as a place where groups are able to sample traditional Icelandic fare in a setting that has changed little in the past one hundred years. It also provides the base from which Mjóeyri guesthouse rents out small boats with outboard motors for recreational fishing within the fjord where cod and haddock are still plentiful. In 1980 The East Iceland Maritime Museum (Sjóminjasafn Austurlands) became a part-owner of Randulff´s sea-house leading to the restoration of both the exterior of the building and the adjoining jetty. In 2003 the society became the sole owner of the house and in 2008 was re-opened in co-operation with the nearby Mjóeyri guesthouse and tourism centre. It has since been available both as an extension of the excellent Eskifjörður maritime museum and as a place where groups are able to sample traditional Icelandic fare in a setting that has changed little in the past one hundred years. It also provides the base from which Mjóeyri guesthouse rents out small boats with outboard motors for recreational fishing within the fiord where cod and haddock are still plentiful.
Mjóeyri is a beautiful place outside the village in Eskifjörður. There is a lighthouse and a beach where it is fun to play.  Mjóeyri was the last execution site in Austurland, and there is an information board on the grave of the last man who was executed at Mjóeyri.  Today, Mjóeyri is a thriving tourism place where, among other things, you can get guidance around the area.
Gerpir is the easternmost cape of Iceland, steep and rugged, 661 meters high. It is believed that the oldest cliffs in Iceland, about 12 million years old, are found in Gerpir.  Gerpissvæðið is a true paradise for hikers. Ferðafélag Fjarðamanna has issued a hiking map of the area, which is available in information centers and shops in Fjarðabyggð.  Anyone interested in outdoor activities should visit the Gerpir area.  Powered by Wikiloc
Páskahellir Cave
Páskahellir is a small cave by the seaside of Neskaupstaður Nature Reserve, with pillow lava and rock tunnels. You can also find holes that were probably formed by prehistoric trees. A forest that used to grow here was most likely destroyed by lava around 12 million years ago. After that, erosion by the sea formed the cave itself. Legend has it that by visiting Páskahellir on Easter morning, you can see the sun dancing over the ocean waves when rising. The name Páskahellir can easily be seen as a result of this folklore. The walk from the entrance of the Nature Reserve to the site is about 10 to 15 min. Wooden stairs lead down from the walking path down to the cave, but please note that climbing down can be tricky and must be done with caution.
The beutiful wilderness at bay Norðfjarðarflói. Of the three fjords or main arms in Norðfjarðarflói bay, Viðfjörður is the most southern. The remaining two are Norðfjörður, the home to Neskaupstaður town, and Hellisfjörður. The Viðfjörður area is widely known for a beutiful walking trails, one lying along the shore from Viðfjörður to Stuðlar and Barðsnes (app. 3hrs walk). This path follows, for the most part, an old track. A bridge lies over the river Viðfjarðará. Viðfjörður was known in the 19th century as a ghostly place. Strange incidents were reported to happen, enkindling eerie stories on the viðfjörður phenomenons. A popular 20th-century Icelandic author, Þórbergur Þórðarson, described some of the ghostly goings-on at Viðfjörður decades ago in one of his books.
Neskaupstaður Nature Reserve
Iceland´s first nature reserve. The reserve, stretching from Stórilækur toward the ocean, became formally protected on November 29th, 1972, making Neskaupstaður Nature Reserve the first of its sort in Iceland. In fact, only a few towns in Iceland have access to such an ideal area for preservation at their very doorstep. The scenery and view are magnificent, while flora, fauna, and geology are varied, creating a haven for recreation, observation, and instruction in the Icelandic countryside. East of the peak Nípukollur (819m), the ridge slopes NE down to 609m. Lying along the entire eastern slope of Nípa, the protected area includes the shore and shallows into the sea. By the steep slope at the coastline, caves or hollows have been carved out by the ocean waves, of which Páskahellir cae is the largest one. Plant diversity is abundant, with characteristic plants of East Iceland blooming along with rarer species. The cliffs are inhabited by Raven and Thrush, and in the coastal cliffs various sea birds nest, including Fulmars and Puffins. Eider Ducks live at the shore. And puddles left on the rocky coastline, as well as the wave-beaten seaside cliffs, are ideal for inspecting small marine creatures, such as crustaceans, snails and barnacles. Statutory protection has two main aims. Firstly, to preserve the land and bio diversity as uninfluenced by man as possible, and secondly, to grant the public access to the rich and unspoiled Icelandic nature. To achieve these aims, visitors are kindly asked not to disturb in any way the vegetation or animal life of preserve. More information about the Neskaupstaður Nature Reserve 
A charming, richly vegetated fjord, deserted and hidden behind the mountainous peninsula across the bay from Neskaupstaður. The ruins of a whaling station that operated early in the 20th century can still be seen here. Powered by Wikiloc
Sandvík Bay
Once the easternmost settlement in Iceland. Though this inlet of the Gerpir cliffs is now abandoned, it once sheltered Iceland´s easternmost settlement, and is still home to the famous ghost Glæsir. He used to precede people who were from here wherever the went, and greeted everybody by taking off his head in a friendly manner. A marked path goes from Stuðlar til Sandvík Bay, through the Sandvíkursakð mountain pass. It´s an app. three hrs. route, going 500m above sea level. The view from the mountain pass is nothing less than stunning.
The way out to Dalatangi lies along a narrow road that winds out of Mjóifjörður. Drive along with landslides and cliffs, past waterfalls and gorges. When Dalatangi appears, it is as if you are on an island inland. It is not possible to drive further east in Iceland. At Dalatangaviti, there is an excellent view to the north, all the way to Glettingur and into Loðmundarfjörður and Seyðisfjörður. The two lighthouses on Dalatangi have a remarkable history. The older one was built on the initiative of the Norwegian fishing operator and entrepreneur Otto Wathne in 1895. It is made of basalt stone with stone glue in between. The younger lighthouse, which is now in use, was built in 1908. At Dalatangi, there is a beautiful farm. By the farm, there is an ornamental garden and a greenhouse.