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History and Culture

Aðalból

Aðalból, settled by the hero of Hrafnkell's Saga, is situated in a valley and is isolated from the farms farther down. Those who have read this exciting saga can visit a number of features relating to it, such as Hrafnkell's burial mound. Furthermore, ancient relics found in the vicinity have added to the atmosphere of the Saga era. All this puts one in touch with Nordic literary heritage and Icelandic history, and the tourist service staff at Aðalból endeavor to help visitors experience this.

Álfaborg

Right by the village, the legally protected hill of Álfaborg, which the "fjord of Borg," Borgarfjörður Eystri is named after, rises about 30 m high. Accessed by an easy trail and with an observation point on top, Álfaborg is home to the queen of the Icelandic elves. In addition, Borgarfjörður has numerous stories of relations between its elfin and human residents. Many places are connected with elves and "hidden people," including the church of the elves Kirkjusteinn: a huge, appropriately shaped rock in Kækjudalur valley.

Several stories tell of trolls in the mountains.



Bakkagerðiskirkja

On the doorstep to the illustrious and famed cliff Álfaborg, placed at the outskirts of the village, stands the church Bakkagerðiskirkja. Formerly, the church stood at the vicarage Desjarmýri, the present building was consecrated in 1901. The church boasts an exceedingly remarkable altarpiece, painted by the famous local artist Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval in 1914. Christ is depicted giving the Sermon on the Mount, standing on top of the Álfaborg with the Dyr Mountains as a background. This piece is one of Kjarval's most famous works, attracting tourists visiting Borgarfjörður.

Bustarfell

Bustarfell is one of the few remaining turf farms in East Iceland. It is located in Hofsárdalur in Vopnafjörður. The farmhouses were originally erected in 1770 but have undergone many changes over the years. The lodgings were inhabited until 1966. Since then they have been under the protection of the National Museum. Bustarfell is a very active heritage museum today, and on special occasions, workshops are set afoot to commemorate ways and workmanship of days of yore. Located next to the farm is the "Croft café." A hiking path takes visitors to the "Stone of the Elf lady," the source of a legendary tale.

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Dvergasteinn (Dwarfs Rock)

The "Dvergasteinn" - The Dwarfs´rock- is situated on the northern shore of Seyðisfjörður, some three km. outside the town. The stone is easily accessible and cuts a prominent figure on the shore. According to an ancient legend, the rock originated on the other side of the fjord but moved across the sea on its own accord as the local church was shifted to the other side of the fjord. And indeed it is quite different from all surrounding rocks. According to the famous legend, the rock is a site of prayers for the local dwarfs and the idea of staying behind when the Christian church was moved to the other side was simply unacceptable to them!

Eiðar

Eiðar (14 km. north of town Egilsstaðir) is a ranking presbytery with important cultural and educational background. This is the site of one of the very first agricultural schools in Iceland ( founded in 1883), later converted into a general educational center for the East region. Its function as a school was discontinued to a large extent in 1997 and since then many ideas have been launched as to its future role. In the meantime, Eidar has served as a summer hotel. The Eiðar surroundings are picturesque and inviting, with verdant grounds on the banks of beautiful Lagarfljót laying the ideal grounds for peaceful and poetical walks. Presently, efforts are afoot to develop a center for arts and culture.

Gálgaás

Gálgaás is an old execution place in Egilsstaðir.The cliff Gálgaás, just east of Egilsstaðir Church, may seem unimposing, yet it has been the location of many a lugubrious destiny in centuries past. The most renowned person to loose his life at Gálgaás was a farmer named Valtýr, living at Eyjólfsstaðir some 10 km. southwards. He was hanged in the wake of being tried for theft and murder; accusations which he steadfastly denied. Fourteen years later, the real murderer was unmasked by mere chance - also named Valtýr und suffered the same fate as his innocent namesake. Both skeletons were left lying below the cliff, which now bears a bronze plate commemorating these events.

Gallery Snærós and grafic center

Gallerí Snærós and the grafic centre is loceted in Stöðvarfjörður, run by the initiative of artists Sólrún Friðriksdóttir and Ríkharður Valtingojer. Their atelier ranks among the best grafic workshops in the country. A visit can be arranged to watch the artists at work or even take a private course !

Galtastaðir Fram

The old farm of Galtastaðir Fram is a well-preserved farmhouse from the 19th century. Inhabited until 1967 the building exemplifies the sort of housing common in Iceland in previous centuries, heated to some extent by keeping cows under the communal living room or "baðstofa", which was also used for sleeping and handcraft.

Both the interior and exterior of this small but remarkable showcase of former living conditions can be visited by the consent of the proprietor . Galtastaðir Fram has ranked on the preservation list of the National Museum since 1976.

Geirastaðakirkja

The pretty little turf church Geirastaðakirkja, is situated on the grounds of farm of Litli Bakki. The construction is recent hypothetical remake of a church that had been built in the neighbourhood a thousand years ago, the ruins of which were unerathed during excavation.

Gljúfurárdalur

Gljúfurárdalur is a vale west of Hellisheiði by Vopnafjörður. A hiking trail leads through it and a viewpoint allows for a perfect view of the imposing waterfall Neðrifoss. A marked trail leads towards the ocean, where ruins from the early settlement can be visited. The surroundings form a propitious natural harbor and vestiges of ancient fishing settlements - as well as the saga of the hero of days gone by, Þorsteinn uxafótur - lend historical importance to this scenic shore.

Grænafell

The haven of Mt. Grænafell by Reyðarfjörður has served as the prime location for local outdoor activities for a number of years. At the top of the mountain, a beautiful lake awaits the visitor and a spectacular gorge carves the landscape beside the fell. A paradise of fine bushes at the foot of the mount completes the icing on the cake. The tiny forest is adorned by planted trees, brooklets and extensive rocks fragments from the cliff, reminiscent of dwellings from the land of fairy tales. The area has been made easily accessible by marked hiking trails.

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Hallormsstaðaskógur

Iceland's largest forest surrounds Hallormsstaðaskógur. Experiments with imported tree species were initiated here in 1903; in 1938, the first larch grove was planted, demonstrating that wood cultivation was feasible in Iceland. In fact, the woods are an extensive and congenial area, and in late summer large quantities of berries and mushrooms are yours for the taking. A home economics´ school with dormitories, which initially only accepted women, now educates both sexes. It is placed in a stately building dating from 1930. The Hallormsstaður arboretum is unique in Iceland, comprising a collection of around 70 tree species. Many enjoy strolling through the arboretum, and there are well-marked trails throughout much of the surrounding woodland, clearly indicated on a map published by the Forest Services.

Hallormsstaður

Hallormsstaður is a former parsonage. A small village has formed in this area through the years in connection with the school, travel industry and the work at the forest. The forest of Hallormsstaður is the largest forest in Iceland. In 1903 the Forest Department was founded in Hallormsstaður. Remarkable tree museum has formed in the forest of hallormsstaður through the years. At the tree museum, there are walking paths making it easy to go through the history of tree planting in Iceland. There are art exhibitions in the area and many other events. atlavík, which is located deep in the forest is a beloved attraction for tourists.

Heydalir - Eydalir

Eydalir in Breiðdalur valley has been a vicarage since early christanity in Iceland and a number of renowned vicars have served there through the ages. Among them was the hymnpoet Einar Sigurðsson (17th. century) whose poetry is still venerated among the nation. A pillarstone has been erected in his memory at Eydalir.

Höskuldsstaðir

Höskuldsstaðir is a farmstead of distinction, located in the south branch of valley Breiðdalur, close to highway no. one. A postoffice up to 1947 and a relay for the postmen on their way across Berufjörður pass. Höskuldsstaðir was the birthplace of the venerated scolar Dr. Stefán Einarsson former proffesor at John Hopkins University of Baltimore. Einarsson is remebered for his literary achievements as well as for his research in the sphere of the Icelandic language.

Hrafnkelsstadir

Hrafnkelsstaðir is a farm in Fljótsdalur valley, S-E of river Lagarfljót. It was formerly the abode of saga era hero Hrafnkell Freysgoði Hallfreðarson after he had been chasen off his original settlement at farm Aðalbóli in Hrafnkelsdalur valley. The Saga of Hrafnkell Freysgoði ranks among the classics of Icelandic ancient litterature. The farmsted land include the Ranaskógur forest, an idyllic woodland located in the extremities of the so called Víðivallaháls ridge. In days of yore the entire area was covered with green forest.

Kirkjubær

Kirkjubær in Hróarstunga was a presbitery until 1956, a site of distinction and local intellectuals. The church dates from 1851 and is well preserved. It has a pulprit dating from the 16. th. century and the baptismal font is beautifully carved by master carver and sculptor Ríkharður Jónsson (ref. Langabúð, Djúpivogur). The altarpiece dates from the year 1894.

Kjarvalshvammur

Kjarvalshvammur. A peaceful little haven, located at road 94 beside the Selfljót river south of Ketilsstaðir farm on the way out Héraðsflói. Here still stands a small cabin and a boathouse both of which belonged to Iceland´s master painter Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1889 -1972) .When this master painter had spent two summers here a tent, just before 1950, the farmer at Ketilsstaðir presented him the piece of land in question and built the cabin which still stands. This was the only real estate Kjarval ever owned. He often stayed here for extended periods, producing some of his most famous paintings. The boathouse still shelters Kjarval´s little dinghy on which he descended the river out to sea, sailing as far as the village of Borgarfjörður Eystri in 1957.

Lagarfljót and Lögurinn

Lagarfljot is about 140 km. long flood or river, consisting mostly of glacial water. The innermost section forms a lake Lögurinn with a surface of 53 m2. The depths of the lake descend to 112. m. with the bed of the lake as deep as 90 m. beneath sea level. The Lögurinn is home to the legendary monster serpent Lagarfljótsormurinn, first mentioned in 1345. It was considered a bad omen if the curved forms of the monster were spotted above the of the water. In recent years it has not revealed itself so often - yet the Lagafljót serpent is truly unpredictable!

Lagarfljótsormurinn

The gigantic serpentine sea monster, or worm, of Lagarfljót (Lögurinn) lake, is Fljótsdalshérað's most famous creature. As it was already mentioned in chronicles of 1345, it has reached ripe old age. Initially, the wyrm was merely a little slug that was placed on a golden ring - at that time suggested as a method of multiplying gold. However, when the girl who owned the ring opened the shrine containing the ring and the slug, she was dismayed by the rapid growth of the worm - swelling with pride over its treasure, while the ring remained the same. Panicking, the girl hurled the shrine and its contents into the lake. As time passed, the slug grew into a wyrm frightening the locals and belching poison over the farmlands. Some say that two Finnish magicians were eventually engaged to tackle the monster and that they managed to restrain the beast by shaking its extremities to the lakebed. Others claim it was the popular bishop of North Iceland, Guðmundur - nicknamed "the Benevolent"- who tied the wyrm down in this way, so tightly that it only manages to arch its back up above the surface. Legend declares that if the wyrm ever disengages itself, not only will it raise a ruckus, but it will bring about the end of the world...

Midhús

Miðhús was among the first guesthouses in the Hérað region. Travellers passed Miðhús on their way to Seyðisfjörður and Eskifjörður. Today Miðhús houses an art gallery and a workshop (operative since 1975) where Icelandic material is used in many diffirent ways.

Möðrudalur

Möðrudalur is the highest settled farm in Iceland, 469 meters ( 1.539 feet) above sea-level. It has been inhabited since early settlement in Iceland. Möðrudalur has served as a presbytery for centuries. The builder of the church in Modrudalur was Jón A. Stefánsson (1880 - 1971). He was a great farmer and a multitask-artist and the altarpiece is made by himself. His son was Stefan ,,Stórval" Jónsson ( 1908 - 1994), one of a kind character and a painter. The panorama view from the farm is interesting in many ways - judge for yourself.

Mt. Bjólfur and the Snow Avalanche Barriers.

The trail is open from June - September

A trail leading to the uppermost mountain slopes (>600 m.) offering a breathtaking view of the Fjord and the Snow Avalanche Barriers. Open from June until first snowfall in October/November. This 5 km. the trail is an F-road and presents a rare opportunity for high altitude sights for those generally averse to mountain climbing. Furthermore, the spot is ideal for paragliders. The ascent takes about 15-20 minutes from the Fjarðarheiði heath road up to the Snow Avalanche barriers.

Nielsenshus

The Nielsen House was the first private house erected in the village of Egilsstaðir , built in the year 1944 by the danish Oswald Nielsen. Today it houses a nice coffe house and a restaurant, th Café Nielsen.

Njardvikurskridur and Naddi

Until the year 1949, when a passable road came about, all traffic through the scree between Njarðvík and Borgarfjörður eystri was either on foot or on horseback. Once upon a time, an awe-inspiring monster called Naddi occupied a den beneath the scree, harassing, attacking and killing the innocent wayfarers. Naddi was endowed with a human torso whereas he was shaped in the form of an animal below the waist. Finally, a valiant farmer from Borgarfjörður managed to overcome the ominous monster and force him into the sea. Thereupon a cross was erected at the site of the ferocious duel and eversince this religious token has been present in the scree. The present cross bears the following inscription in Latin: "Whoever goes by should bend down and honour this sign of Christ.
In the year 1306."
Travellers often bent their knees before the cross, praying for a safe journey.

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Papey

For centuries Papey was the only inhabited island off Iceland's east coast. The name is a Celtic one, meaning "Friar's Island." Two 12th-century Icelandic sources affirm Irish monks founded a hermitage here, perhaps having been chased off the mainland by the Norse. However, excavations have not yet confirmed habitation prior to the 10th century.
Settlers led a self-sufficient life growing potatoes, tending sheep, sustaining themselves on birds, eggs, fish, seals, and sharks. Later generations harvested down from eider-duck nests.
Papey's population peaked in 1726, totaling 16 inhabitants. The last full-time resident left the island in1948. Primetime to visit is spring until mid-summer when Papey is overrun with guillemots. Puffins and other birds are seen until the end of August, though some birds are seen through summer as well as the seals.
The island boasts Iceland's oldest wooden church.

Sænautasel

The farm of Sænautasel, situated up in the highland of Jökuldalsheiði, was inhabited from 1843-1943. In the years 1875-1880, however, it was left abandoned as a result of the lavish ashfall emanating from volcano Askja during an 1875 eruption. Rumour has it that the farm served as a model for "Independent People", the most popular novel of Iceland's only Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness. Now rebuilt, the interior and exterior of the turf buildings are open to visitors during the summer. Guided tours help reveal the conditions of earlier Icelandic generations. Refreshments in traditional style are offered.

Skaftfell

Center for visual arts
Period: All year round.
Austurvegur 42
710 Seyðisfjörður
s. 472 1632
skaftfell@skaftfell.is
www.skaftfell.is

Skaftfell is a cultural centre dedicated to nurturing and exhibiting visual arts, the main emphasis being on contemporary art. Skaftfell is a meeting point for artists and locals and serves as a center for visual arts in the entire region. Skaftfell was founded in the year 1998 by a group of art enthusiasts in the town of Seyðisfjörður. The centre is situated in an imposing old house, built in 1907. The main floor houses extensive exhibition space with standing exhibitions the whole year round. The top floor encompasses agreeable lodgings for visiting artists and scholars .On the ground floor there is a Bistro endowed with a good library on art and related material. In addition to serving fabulous food and coffee, the Bistro hosts the West-wall gallery, a space dedicated to showing the works of young, experimenting artists.

In the past decade Skaftfell has hosted a large number of exhibitions by international, national and local artists. With the main emphasis on contemporary art, Skaftfell has an important role in the area as a centre of information and education on art and related subjects. Every year Skaftfell organizes and/or hosts various seminars with art students in collaboration with the Icelandic Academy of the Arts and other schools and institutions. Skaftfell is founded in memory of the late artist Dieter Roth who lived and worked in Seyðisfjörður for periods of time during the last decade of his life. In Skaftfell you can find many of his books and prints on display.

Skrúður

Skrúður is an island haven in the mouth of fjord Fáskrúðsfjörður. It is surrounded by high cliffs accessible only to the bold and brave. On the island, there is a sizable cave which was occasionally used as a shelter for sailors making their way southwards. Legends say there were three giant brothers living in the East, one of whom made his home in Skrúður, the other in Streitishvarf and the third on the island of Papey. The Skrúður dweller abducted his wife from the on-shore vicarage of Kolfreyjustaður; the local priest´s young daughter. Legends relating to their insular existence lived among the sailors who visited the island.

Smjörfjöll

Smjörfjöll ("Butter Mountains") is a name covering several mountains - about 1250 m. - between Vopnafjörður and the region of Jökulsárshlíð. North of them is the pass Hellisheiði with the road from Vopnafjörður to Fljótsdalshérað. The pass is an elevated one, 730 m. - offering a beautiful view across the bay Héraðsflói. The road is a rough terrain and weather forecast should be heeded.

Technical Museum of East Iceland

The Techical Museum of East-Iceland

Seyðisfjörður

Period: All year round
Opening hours: Summer (1.June - 15.September) daily 11:00 -17:00
Winter (16.September - 31.May) mon - fri 13:00 - 16:00
Or by agreement.

The Technical Museum of East Iceland was established in 1984. The museum´s main focus is on the era of technical progress in the East, around 1880 to 1950. Technical innovations in areas such as mechanics, electricity, communications, telephony, commerce and architecture are interlaced with changes in lifestyle and milieu. Exhibitions are animated and seek to recreate the atmosphere of the times they portray. The museum serves as a research centre and teaching facility for all levels of education. Staff members also carry out independent research projects relating to the museum´s area of interest.

Technical Museum of East Iceland
Hafnargata 44, IS 710 Seyðisfjörður Iceland
Tel. + 354 472-1596
e-mail tekmus@tekmus.is

The French Graveyard - le cimetiere francais

Just outside the village Búðir in Fáskrúðsfjörður, you will find the French graveyard. The graveyard is from the times of the French sailors who came to Fáskrúðsfjörður for many years. There are 49 known graves in the yard.

The trail of the Mountain-Maid

Vestdalseyri / Vestdalur valley
Duration: 3,5 hours / 6 km

Period: June - September

A walk to the Vestdalur Nature Reserve in Seyðisfjörður, up to the Vestdalur lake and the cave of "The Mountain Maid". The route once served as the principal communication link between Seyðisfjörður and other regions in East Iceland. Relics of this 19th - 20th c. pillar of transport can still be detected through meticulous road constructions, stone walls, and Cairns. Having passed several tiers of glorious waterfalls, the wanderer reaches a small lake, Vestdalsvatn, which remains frozen most of the year. With majestic Mt. Bjólfur to the left., a tiny cave awaits to the right, the site of one the most important archaeologic discoveries of later times. In 2004 a group of workers unearthed some human bones, later defined as those of lady, around thirtyish - along with more than 400 pearls and some pins dating back to the era of settlement. The remains are believed to date from the era around 940. These are now conserved at the National Museum.

Unaos

Unaós ("The Estuary of Uni" is a beautiful inlet on the east coast of Héraðflói bay. It is named after the settler Uni Garðarsson but according to the Book of Settlements (12th.century) he docked in the estuary. Uni was the son of one of the three discoverers of Iceland, Gardar Svavarsson. He was sent to Iceland by King Haraldur Fairhair of Norway in order to convince the Icelanders to become his subjects. His mission was however unfruitful. Uni docked his ship at a cliff in Selfljót river called Knörr. In the estuary of the river there´s a promonitory called Krosshöfði by which was the principal harbour of the region, Óshöfn, until a passable road to the village Borgarfjörður eystri came about in the late 1940ties. The harbour was a primitive one since total calm and favourable currents were neede in order to bring the merchandises ashore. The area presents several points of interest and several walking trails are to be found there.

Valþjófsstaður

Valþjófsstaður in Fljótsdalur valley enjoys a century-long reputation as a farm of prestige, a vicarage and a site of culture and distinction. In times of yore, it was the residence of the Þórarinsson brothers, Þorvarður, one of the most powerful men in Iceland in his day (d. 1297), and Oddur, a great warrior slain at farm Geldingaholt in 1255.
The famous Valþjófsstaður church door, one of the finest items in the National Museum at Reykjavík, derives from Valþjófsstaður. The present door is an exact replica.

Víknaslóðir

In Borgarfjörður Eystri is the starting point for one of the best hiking areas in the country, the so-called "Víknaslóðir" or "The trails of the Inlets". This area is an extensive one but the trails are clearly indicated. A 10 days hike in the area is recommended - or a 5-day hike either around the Southern or the Northern area. In the village of Bakkagerði in Borgarfjörður the traveler will be provided with good preparatory assistance in most fields relating to a visit to Víknaslóðir.

Völvuleiði

Situated some distance above the highway connecting the villages Reyðarfjörður and Eskifjörður is the burial mound of a prophetess said to be a guardian angel of the area. According to legend, as long as her bones remain intact - and the cairn indicating the site is maintained - the prophetess will continue to fulfill her protective role. Thus, in 1627 as the Algerian pirates who had previously pillaged the South and the Westman Islands, approached the eastern shore, the cunning lady produced a fog so massive that the scoundrels were compelled to take to the sea and abandon their lugubrious plans of manhunt and massacre.

Waterfall lane

Fjarðará River & Fjarðarsel Museum
Duration: 2,5 and 4 hours / 2- 4 km.

Period: June - September

An easy and pleasant walk from the center of Seyðisfjörður town, by a walkway partly gravel, partly grassy through a forested area towards the vale Fjarðarsel where beautiful waterfalls and varied green growth await the wanderer.
A visit to the oldest operational power plant in Iceland at Fjarðarsel (1913) is optional, provided that it is arranged beforehand. The plant marked a turning point in the history of Icelandic electrification. For the avid waterfall lover an added walk along the south side of Fjarðará river up to Neðri Stafur rock stratum, (300 m. alt.) is a must.
Out of a total of 25 waterfalls, in river Fjarðará some of the most spectacular ones can be seen along the way. At Neðri Stafur rock stratum, the wanderer is presented with an exquisite view over Seyðisfjörður fjord and town, along with a fine selection of berries in late August. The scenic mountains, waterfalls, vegetation, and the history of the town is a wonderful blend that makes this walk unforgettable.

Austurland

Towns & Villages

Each town in Austurland has its own characteristics. In some of the coastal villages t, the influence of North European neighbors obvious to everyone. 

The French made a strong impact in Fáskrúðsfjörður where the road signs are made out in French as well as in Icelandic. Norwegian influence is easily detected in the Eskifjörður and Seydisfjörður architecture. No such roots are to be seen in Egilsstadir which is the latest addition to East Iceland agglomeration, founded in the late forties of the 20th century.  

Map Vopnafjörður Borgarfjörður Eystri Egilsstaðir Seyðisfjörður Mjóifjörður Neskaupstaður Breiðdalsvík Eskifjörður Reyðarfjörður Fáskrúðsfjörður Stöðvarfjörður Djúpivogur