Adalstraeti 10, Reykjavík
Towards the south side of the street you can see these colourful buildings.
These are part of the Hotel Reykjavik Centrum.
The hotel opened about 10 years ago. The houses were rebuild to look like the ones that were there before.
In Aðalstræti you can see several beautiful and colourful houses.
In one of these houses you can find the Tourist Office. This is located in the house on the north end of the street, where it turns into Vesturgata. They have of course lots of information on what to see and do. They can also help to find accomodation or book excursions. Here you can also get your VAT refund if you don't want to wait until you're at the airport.
The most famous house in this street is Reykjavik's oldest house - and second to one the oldest house in Iceland - located in Aðalstræti 10. The timber house was built in 1762.
Several important Icelanders lived in this house in the course of the years.
Nowadays it is the home of a store called Kraum, specializing in design artefacts by Icelandic artists.
Another one is the 'house of the Falcons' - Fálkahúsið. To me it is the most beautiful house in old Reykjavik.
In the ealier years, Iceland was known for having the best hunting falcons in the world. They were caught to send as a present to the Danish king. Until they were shipped out, the falcons were kept in this house. The present house however isn't the original one. This was torn down and rebuild in 1868 to what you see today.
SInce then it housed disco's and nowadays a restaurant.
The reference to the falcons is still present: look at the roof and you'll see them.
Aðalstræti – meaning ‘main street’ – is Iceland’s oldest street.
The street finds its existence in a small path, leading from the sea towards a farm in the south end of the street. It is thought that Ingólfur Arnarson lived at this farm.
A lot of influential people lived in the housed in Aðalstræti.
The “Ingólfur’s well / Ingólfsbrunnur”, located outside the house that now has number 9, used to be the city’s main well.
In the basement of Hotel Reykjavik Centrum you can visit the Settlement exhibition. It is created around the remains of a Viking longhouse dating back to the 10th century. Other remains and artefacts as old as the 9th century complete the exhibition. Sadly we haven’t been able to visit this exhibition.
There are several interesting houses to be seen in Aðalstræti.
At the end of the street, where it joins Vesturgata, you can see a lovely yellow house which houses Restaurant Reykjavik. Right in front of it you’ll see a plaque in the pavement. This marks the spot of the old hub of Reykjavik. All the streets were numbered starting from this spot. The lower the number, the closer to this hub. Odd numbers to the left and square numbers to the right of this spot. Thanks to member Regina1965 for this info!
Right by Aðalstræti you'll find the square Ingólfstorg. When we visited in wintertime, there wasn't much going on here, but I can very well imagine it being very lively in summer. The square is named after Ingolfur Arnason. The 2 basalt colums represent the 2 poles Ingolfur threw from his ship into the water. The place where they landed would become the place where he'd go on land to settle. The smoke coming out of the colums represent the smoke Ingolfur saw when approaching the 'smoky bay' of present Reykjavik.
Aðalstræti is Reykjavík's oldest street and thus Iceland's oldest street. We believe that the first settler of Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson lived here.
The thing is that when digging for new houses in Aðalstræti one is almost bound to come by some antiquities from the Settlement age, builders were building a hotel at the south-corner of Aðalstræti when they came across the remains of a longhouse, that is why that museum is in the basement at the Hotel Reykjavík Centrum. See my next tip on the museum.
In 2005 the hotel was opened and the houses next to it were contstructed in the likeness of their predecessors in Aðalstræti. The hotel spreads over these 3 houses, Uppsalir and Fjalakötturinn. One of them, the red one, is almost the replica of what used to be Aðalstræti 8 called Fjalakötturinn, where my grandfather and Uncle used to work as goldsmiths and I visited so many times. The original Fjalakötturinn was opposite Ingólfstorg square.
Aðalstræti 12 is called Ísafoldarhúsið, The house of Ísafold, and was moved to Aðalstræti from Austurstræti when newer buildings were built in Austurstræti.
The oldest timber-house in Reykjavík is in Aðalstræti 10, built in 1762. There is only one house older than this house and that house is a concrete house and is located in the island Viðey just outside of Reykjavík. Governor Skúli Magnússon resided in Viðey in that house. The house in Aðalstræti 10 was the residence of one of our bishops, bishop Geir Vídalín (1761-1823) and now houses a tourist store called Kraum, specialising in Icelandic design and which won a prize in December 2008 for being the best tourist store in Reykjavík. Kraum buys directly from various Icelandic designers and always has the best of what there is to offer in that field.
The Tourist Information Centre is also located in Aðalstræti, on the north-end corner.
There is a fountain by Aðalstræti 9 called Ingólfsbrunnur, The fountain of Ingólfur, but here used to be one of Reykjavík's main water-springs. I have added a photo of the fountain.
In 1752 Skúli Magnússon, the Icelandic governor, started industry in Reykjavík and in Aðalstræti there were wool-factories and stores on both sides of the street. This beginning of industry in Reykjavík was called in Icelandic "Innréttingarnar" meaning work-shops, and which eventually formed the center of Reykjavík and lead to it becoming a town in 1786.
Fógetagarðurinn park "The Governor's park" is beside Aðalstræti 9 and it is named after Skúli Magnússon and there is a statue of him in the park, see my tip.
Aðalstræti got its name in 1848 but before that time it carried Danish names such as Hovedgaden and Adelgaden which literally means "The Main Street". The Icelandic name Aðalstræti also means "The Main Street" so one can see from the names that Aðalstræti was the center of Reykjavík.
Aðalstræti is Reykjavík's oldest street and lies at the heart of the small grid of streets that still bear echoes of its fishing village past. The name means Main Street, although it has its origins as a simple path, probably linking a farm at its southern end with the sea. That farm is thought to have been the home of Ingólfur Arnarson, the first Nordic settler in Iceland. As the town grew up around this area, , Aðalstræti became indeed its main street, and would have been lined with the homes of important residents, as well as the meeting house and the town’s main well, Ingólfsbrunnur (“Ingólfur’s well”), outside the present-day number 9.
The city’s oldest timber-house, Geysishúsið, is in this street at number 10 (see photo). It was built in 1762. Nearby, at the southern end of the street, is the Settlement Exhibition, which preserves the ruins of a 10th century Viking long house, along with objects and remains of human habitation believed to date from the 9th century settlement of Reykjavík. I wanted to visit this, but time was pressing (the short days of winter are a hindrance in that respect, though they bring such lovely light) and we decided to focus on outdoor sights as the day was so lovely. However, it is possible to peer down through a glass panel in the street to see the remains of the longhouse below, so at least I got a glimpse!
Excavations in Adalstraeti Street have revealed ruins that date back to the Viking era, when the first settlers came to Iceland. In 1752, Treasurer Skuli Magnusson decided it should be the site for various workshops, which eventually formed the core of the town.
Adalstraeti 10 is considered the city's oldest timber house. In olden times it used to be the residence of Bishop Geir Vidalin (1761-1823), who's hospitality was infamous at the times.
Inside the house one can find two displays of old Reykjavik and some paintings of the early times of the city.