The Settlement Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland

June 15, 2012 by

Sightseeing, Tours & Activities, Unforgettable Experiences

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

If you only go to one museum in Iceland make it this one.

In 2001, the future uncovered the past in Reykjavik when workers who were building a new car-park discovered what is now Iceland’s oldest known building. The Viking longhouse they found is now the basis for The Settlement Museum, also called 871+/-2 because this is the year AD from which the building dates.

In the city center of Reykjavik, on the corner of Adelstraeti and Sudurgata streets, the award-winning museum focuses on the early life of Viking settlers. The oldest part still standing is a stone wall covered in volcanic ash – even back then Iceland was erupting and lava and ash were causing chaos! Archaeologists believe the house was made of turf and stone with huge fireplaces and was lived in by a Viking family with their livestock housed at one end. Displays offer a good idea of what life in Iceland was like back then, showing artifacts and tools.

Although the focus of the museum is Reykjavik’s earliest history, the approach to the displays is the most modern technology available. Life in the longhouse is reconstructed through projections on the walls, and a 3D virtual reconstruction of the building. High-tech panoramas show the ancient Icelandic landscape, and the museum looks at why the Vikings first settled this harsh land and how they survived its extreme climate.

Icelanders are proud of their history and are rightly particularly proud of this modern museum. If you want to understand this country, The Settlement Museum is a good place to start.

-Phillippa Burne

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