The old town of Akureyri
One Hundred and Fifty Years Back in Time
The town of Akureyri has been called the capital of the north and rightly so, as it serves as a centre for transport, services and culture, connecting the north to the rest of the country. Akureyri, however has a unique and distinctive character which makes it an essential stop for anyone travelling north. The core of its character can be found in the Old Town of Akureyri —called Innbærinn.
Only a few minutes walk from the city centre, the area is a monument to Akureyri’s culture and history. Many of the city’s oldest houses have been preserved and today are homes to people, businesses, cafés and museums, giving visitors a chance to experience the town’s rich history. The Old Town’s location plays no small role in its charm as a cliff forms a natural border to the north and the ocean to the east.Where the Past Meets the Present
In recent years, steps have been taken to secure the Old Town’s legacy, both in terms in preservation and accessibility. Informative signposts have recently been placed throughout the Old Town giving visitors a chance to learn about life in a different era.
Hanna Rósa Sveinsdóttir, at the Museum of Akureyri, says it has been important to take these steps to preserve and maintain the Old Town, but at the same time, adapting it to modern day life. “In my mind, the Old Town is a historical monument which connects the town’s history to the present, making it completely unique,” says Hanna Rósa. “We’ve managed to maintain the original street planning even though the Old Town has been inhabited all this time. The townsfolk respect the town’s history and when it comes to renovations and new buildings, it is always done with that in mind,” says Hanna Rósa.
Akureyri is now celebrating the 150 years that have passed since it was given its official title as a township. The name Akureyri however, dates back to the 15th century, but it was in 1778 that the first dwelling was built. The oldest standing building is Laxdalshús, built in 1795, which today houses a restaurant & café that serves local dishes. The Old Town is replete with old picturesque timber houses which give the town its relaxed and charming ambiance.History Captivated in Museums
Fittingly, the Old Town is home to many museums. Nonnahús is the childhood home of one of Iceland’s most celebrated writers, Jón Sveinsson, author of a series of books about the adventures of a boy named Nonni, and translated into over 30 languages. Built in 1850, it has been renovated into a museum dedicated to his life and works—a landmark in Akureyri.
The Museum of Akureyri is located in Akureyri’s first villa with an extensive garden where forestry was started in 1899 and explains why the city is so blessed with vegetation. The museum is dedicated to everyday life from historic times to the present, and includes art and photography displays.
You’ll also find museums dedicated to motorcycles, industry and aviation. A day in the Old Town visiting museums will thus leave you enlightened about almost every facet of life in the north imaginable.The Best Ice Cream in all the Land?
Icelanders have a strange obsession with ice cream and will bicker to no end about which shop has the best. Considered a strong contender by many is Brynja, the shop in the Old Town, where ice cream connoisseurs from all over the country stop by every time they’re in Akureyri.
However you choose to spend your time, a visit to Akureyri’s Old Town it is well worth your while, taking in the sights and going just a little bit back in time.