Welcome to the Reykjavik City and Architecture Walk! This guided walking tour will take you on a journey through the vibrant capital of Iceland, showcasing its unique blend of modern and traditional architecture while also getting to know its history, customs, food, and culture. Before we begin exploring the city, let’s delve into the evolution of architecture and housebuilding in Iceland to understand the context of the structures we’ll encounter.
Iceland’s geographical location, climate, and cultural heritage have all influenced its architectural history.
Due to its isolation and challenging environment, traditional Icelandic architecture developed distinct characteristics that adapted to the harsh conditions.
In the early settlement period, Icelanders built turf houses, known as “tjörn” or “burstabær,”
which were partially underground structures with grassy roofs.
These houses provided insulation against the cold and offered protection from the fierce winds and snowstorms.
Over time, the turf houses evolved into timber-framed houses with turf walls, known as “skálar,” featuring wooden gables and roofs covered with turf or wooden shingles.
This style of architecture reflected the scarcity of trees on the island and the need to maximize resources.
In the 19th century, urbanization and the influence of Danish architectural trends led to the emergence of timber houses and concrete buildings. The timber houses were often painted in vibrant colors, creating a cheerful and picturesque cityscape that can still be observed in parts of Reykjavik’s Old Town.
During the mid-20th century, the influence of modernism and functionalism began to shape Icelandic architecture. Buildings like the Hallgrímskirkja, designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson, showcase the modernist style with its towering presence and clean lines inspired by Icelandic nature.
In recent years, Reykjavik has experienced a surge in contemporary architecture, blending innovative design with sustainable practices. The city has become a hub for architectural experimentation, evident in structures like the Harpa Concert Hall, with its distinctive glass facade reminiscent of Iceland’s basalt columns.
As we embark on our tour, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the evolution of Icelandic architecture firsthand, Our guide will provide further insights into the architectural history of Reykjavik, allowing you to appreciate the city’s unique architectural heritage. So, let’s begin our exploration of Reykjavik’s captivating cityscape on the Reykjavik City and Architecture Walk!