The church of Akureyri - Akureyrarkirkja.
The landmark of Akureyri is Akureyrarkirkja - The Church of Akureyri with 112 steps to the top of the hill. It is such a beautiful church, consecrated in 1940. It was back then the biggest church in Iceland. Our state architect back then, Guðjón Samúelsson, drew this church.
Akureyrarkirkja church was named after Mathías Jochumsson, the great Icelandic poet, who lived in Akureyri at Sigurhæðir, just below the church - and was called Matthíasarkirkja church.
Inside the church there are 17 beautiful stained glass windows, one of which is from a cathedral in Coventry, England, which was destroyed in WW2.
The christening font is a replica of a font one of our most known sculptors made, Berthel Thorvaldsen, and the altarpiece above the font is from the first church in Akureyri, which was consecrated in 1863 (see my 4th photo).
Do pay it a visit while in Akureyri and don't forget to count the steps!
Nonnahús "Nonni's house" memorial museum.
Nonnahús is my favourite museum in Akureyri and a hidden gem. I have fond memories of visiting Nonni's house when I was a child :)
Nonnahús was the child-hood home of Nonni, Jón Stephán Sveinsson (1857-1944). It is one of the oldest houses in Akureyri, built in 1850. It opened as a museum in 1957.
Nonni became a well-known writer of children's books and wrote 12 books on his life (I read all his books as a child and love them all and one can read them as an adult as well).
Nonni's father died when he was 11 and his mother couldn't raise her 5 children alone. Nonni and his brother, Manni, were offered to attend a Catholic college in France and later Nonni became a Jesuite priest. Nonni went there first, in 1870 and Manni joined him in 1873. Unfortunately Manni died there of consumption only 24 years old.
Always an Icelander at heart Nonni only managed to return to Iceland on 2 occasions until he died in Cologne in 1944. There is a lovely German lady, Friederike, who takes care of Nonni´s grave in Cologne and holds out a website dedicated to Nonni and his work Nonni Fanclub Deutschland. I correspond with her from time to time and hold her in highest respect for keeping the memory of our beloved Nonni alive.
Nonni's books have been translated into 40 languages and at the museum you will see his books in different languages on display. It is so awesome that different nations in the world love his books as well as we Icelanders :)
The museum is so lovely as it is like you have come to visit Nonni in his home as the rooms are preserved as they were - and I loved the kitchen as well :) In the garden of Nonnahús you can see old Icelandic toys,which consisted of sheep-bones and horns and sticks and stones. Nonni and his brother Manni would have played with such toys. Times have changed, eh?
In one room there is a film on Nonni running on TV - there was an Icelandic film made on his life. There was a group of German tourists watching the film last time I visited Nonnahús - somehow Germans seem to like Nonni as much as we Icelanders do.
Opening hours: June 1st - September 1st from 10:00-17:00. From September 2nd - May 31st the museum is open upon agreement. Just send them a letter or phone ahead.
The Zontaclub ran the museum for 50 years or from 1957-2007. Anna S. Snorradóttir was one of the founders of the first Zontaclub. She wanted to make a museum at Nonnahús house, which had become very run down. She went to the owners of the house and told them about her plans, that she wanted to buy the house and turn it into a museum, but that she had got no money. The owners of the house, Sigríður Davíðsdóttir og Zóphónías Árnason, donated their house to the Zontaclub, how lovely is that :)
Jón Sveinsson was made the Honorary Citizen of Akureyri.
Entrance fee: ISK 900
I highly recommend visiting Nonnihús while in Akureyri.
Nonnasteinn rock is named after Jón Stephán Sveinsson (1857-1944) or Nonni as he was called. It is a big rock on Höfði above Nonnahús house.
Nonni's father died when he was 11 and his mother couldn't raise her 5 children alone. When Nonni was 12 years old, he and his brother, Manni, were invited by a French count to go to France to study at a Catholic college.
Nonni wanted to study and to see the world, but on the other hand he didn´t want to part with his mother and siblings.
In his book "Nonni" he describes his emotions when he had to make this big decision. He stood on the slope above his home and while looking out at the ocean he saw a sailboat. "I could not stop thinking about this little sailboat. I sat on a rock, which stood out from the fragrant grass and let my feelings and thoughts loose. In my troubles and agony of my soul I sighed and gasped out: "Oh, dear God! What should I do?"
Nonni then went to Germany and later on he became a Jesuit priest.
There is a lovely drawing of Nonni sitting on this rock looking at the ocean.
One can walk up to the Nonnasteinn rock or take the path from above the rock, next to the cemetery.
The Nonni statue.
There is a big statue of Nonni, 2,5 meters high, in front of Nonnahús. The statue was made by one of our female sculptors, Nína Sæmundsson, in 1957.
The statue was located for a while in the old Borgarbókasafn, City Library in Reykjavík. Then it just disappeared. Women from the Zontaclub of Akureyri heard of the statue and started looking for it. One of the Zontaclub´s goals is to preserve the memory of Nonni, the Honorary Citizen of Akureyri.
After the statue was moved from the City Library in ca 1982 nobody knew where it was. The women in the Zontaclub tried in vain to find the statue. The decided on asking the nation for help. From 1970-1980 a lot of newspaper articles were published and finally after so many years the statue was found hidden away in a hay-loft.
The statue was found in the hay-loft of Korpúlsstaðir just 15 minutes away from where I live in Reykjavík. It was found in a box with the marking "head up" - and it was totally intact.
The Zontagroup received the Nonni statue as a present and decided on casting it in bronze. The statue was sent to Germany and inaugurated in 1994 where it got a place in front of Nonnahús house.
I just love this statue and have my picture taken with it every time I visit Nonnahús house :)
Kudos to Anna S. Snorradóttir who made this happen. She was one of the founders of the first Zontaclub. She wanted to make a museum at Nonnahús house, which had become very run down. She went to the owners of the house and told them about her plans, that she wanted to buy the house and turn it into a museum, but that she had got no money. The owners of the house, Sigríður Davíðsdóttir og Zóphónías Árnason, donated their house to the Zontaclub - imagine the generosity of these good people!
The statue "Tilvera" - Existence.
On a bench by MA, the Akureyri college sits a brown statue of a man, made by the artist Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir. I have seen her statues in different places in Iceland, they are all like this, human beings, naked, either in bronze colour or silvery.
This statue is called "Tilvera" or Existence. It was a gift in 2005 from 40 and 50 year old students from MA.
The idea behind the statue on the bench is that if you feel down then you can sit by the statue and tell it your problems - and nobody should leave it feeling blue.
I call the statue the chocolate guy.
Menningarhúsið Hof - Cultural Pillar.
Akureyri has got a new cultural building, which was inaugurated in August 2010.
Hof is the home of the Symphony Orchestra of North Iceland. Here are plays, music and conferences are held at two conference auditoriums.
There is a restaurant at Hof and a souvenir gift shop. The Tourist Information Centre of Akureyri is also located at Hof.
I followed the construction of Hof and watched it turn into this beautiful building. A job well done and it adds to the beauty of Akureyri.
Sigurhæðir and Rev. Matthías Jochumsson.
There is a beautiful house up on "Sigurhæðir" - the Hills of Triumph. It is the "Matthías Jochumsson´s Memorial Foundation" and the former home of our beloved Rev. Matthías Jochumsson (1835-1920), who was a reverend, a poet and a writer and the author of the Icelandic National anthem.
Sigurhæðis is located on a hill right beneath the landmark of Akureyri, Akureyrarkirkja church, with a man-made stream cascading from beneath the house, ever so lovely.
The house was built for Rev. Matthías in 1903 and he lived there until he died in 1920. I love memorial museums like this. Walking from room to room breathing in history. The lower floor of the house has remained like it used to be when Rev. Matthías and his family lived here, but on the upper floor there are 2 offices for rent for scholars and writers to be able to work in this beautiful, historical house of Rev. Matthías Jochumsson.
This house is very special to us Icelanders, who learnt the poems of Rev. Matthías by heart at school.
Opening hours: June 1st - August 31st on Mondays-Fridays from 13:00-17:00.
Admission: ISK 900
In the Botanic Garden there is a bust of Rev. Matthías Jochumsson.
Listigarður Akureyrar - The Botanic garden.
The beautiful Botanic garden in Akureyri is not to be missed when visiting the city. It was founded in 1912 after a group of housewifes founded the Park society and wanted "to have a park in Akureyri for the adornment for the town and a recreational place for the inhabitants". They were given 1 ha and created the first public park in Iceland and ran it with pride until 1953 when the town of Akureyri took over the management of the public garden and added a botanical garden in 1957. At first it was only open on Sunday afternoons, but now it is open all summer long until late in the evening.
Since 1957 it has grown every year into a beautiful park with over 400 species of native plants and 6600 alien plants. It is a really popular park both amongst the inhabitants of Akureyri and tourists alike. So pay it a visit if you are in the area.
All over the garden are poems by our beloved poet Jónas Hallgrímsson. And a bust of Rev. Matthías Jochumsson.
Opening hours are June 1st - September 30th - Weekdays from 8-22 and weekends from 9-22.
In June 2012 a big café was opened in the park.
Send Santa Clause a letter.
In three places in Iceland you can find big red mailboxes for writing Santa Claus a letter. The mailboxes are located in Akureyri´s main street, in Laugavegur street in Reykjavík and at the international airport.
One can write letters to Santa all year round and put them in his mailbox and the mailbox will be emptied on the 1st of December each year.
Written on the mailbox in English: "Write a letter with the name of your best friend or your child and get letters and a gift from one of 13 Icelandic Yulelads".
The mailbox is designed for visitors to Iceland as Icelandic kids get a small gift from the 13 Yulelads every morning from the 12th of December until Christmas Eve. They put their shoe on the window-sill and one by one the Yulelads leave something nice in their shoe at night. If the kids have been naughty they will get an uncooked potato.
The letters can be bought in the Viking Shop and cost ISK 1.500.
The Yulelads are estimating that they will receive and answer between 30.000-70.000 letters next year.
Dettifoss is the largest-volume waterfall in Europe, and is certainly worth the trouble to go see. Up until 2011, you had to either take a special 4 x 4 tour bus or your own rented 4 x 4 to get there. Now, however, Road 862 is paved from the Ring Road to Dettifoss, and normal cars are allowed to drive up to the west side of the falls (closed in winter and during inclement weather). On the west side, there are no services other than a small outhouse, and you must walk about a mile on gravel paths (stroller semi-friendly) to get to the viewpoint. Road F864 runs up the east side to a ranger station and information office, but this road is for 4 x 4 vehicles only. We rented a regular car, so we went up the west side. Even with the cold rain and wind on our visit, we were glad we made the trek... though Minifrosch was sure to let us know he did not approve of the weather.
If you don't rent a car, it is possible to visit Dettifoss with an all-day tour option from Akureyri. SBA-Norðurleid Bus 641 departs Akureyri at 8AM daily (Mid June - August) for Dettifoss via Húsavík (stopping also at Goðafoss). The round-trip option allows you 1 hour at Dettifoss before returning to Akureyri (arrival time back in Akureyri 6:25 PM).Related to:
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Mývatn is a warm volcanic lake to the east of Akureyri. It is famous for its geological formations and abundant bird life. Do be warned: if you go in the summer, be prepared for lots of insects - in fact "Mývatn" can be loosely translated as "Bug Lake." There are some hotels and guest houses in the area should you wish to spend more time in the area, but it is possible to visit Mývatn on a day trip from Akureyri. Scheduled tours and buses can get you here, but it's likely most convenient to rent a car. On a cold, rainy day, we drove around the lake, took some photos, and had a nice lunch.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
One of the most spectacular sights in northern Iceland is Goðafoss, a huge waterfall located about 40 km east of Akureyri. The falls, translated as "Waterfall of the Gods," has a significant place Icelandic religious history. It was a sacred place to worship the Norse Gods. Upon his conversion to Christianity around the year 1000, Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði is said to have thrown the statues of the Norse Gods into the falls.
There are scheduled buses and tours departing Akureyri for Goðafoss, but probably the easiest way to get to the falls is by car. The gravel parking lot by the observation point has no services, though there is a cafe, souvenir shop, restaurant, and guest house at Fossholl a few hundred meters away.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Hiking and Walking
- Road Trip
Akureyrarkirkja: The Inside
When there isn't a service going on (normally at 9AM), you are normally welcome to enter and view the church (though I've been told the church is locked off-season). The interior is quite majestic. Note the stained glass windows. I've read these windows were originally from Coventry Cathedral, removed during World War II to protect them from the bombs. They eventually made their way here to Akureyri.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Religious Travel
It's hard to miss the Akureyrarkirkja, undoubtedly the most distinctive building in town. This church is quite similar to the Halgrímskirkja in Reykjavík -- in fact, it was designed by the same architect, Guðjón Samúelsson. It's especially impressive looking at the structure from the bottom of the long staircase leading up from Hotel Kea on Kaupvangsstræti. On a clear day, look around the back of the church for tremendous views of the fjord and mountains.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Family Travel
The Information center and bus terminal.
The Infomation center and bus terminal in Akureyri is located in the main street of Akureyri. From here all the busses from the Icelandic bus company SBA Norðurleið leave, both scheduled bus tours to other parts of the country or organized excursions, of which there are many to beautiful destinations here in the north of Iceland.
We went on the Jewels of the North excursion from here.
From here leaves the bus to Reykjavik. I have always found it rather expensive. So I was glad to see that it has been decided (August 2012) that busses from Reykjavik will be going to Akureyri and the fare will only be ISK 7.700 each way. They are organized by our Reykjavik bus system.
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