The World of the Vikings
Your plane lands in Reykjanesbær—right in the home of the Vikings
Did you say you were visiting Iceland? You do know what that means, don’t you? It’s the Land of the Vikings. You may fly in on a plane, but you’ll land in Viking World. Take my advice, book yourself in at a hotel just a few minutes from the airport, because you’re already in Reykjanes, one of the most interesting parts of the country.
Here is the home of Viking World where you can see for yourself what it’s like to sail with the Vikings.
The Íslendingur was built as an exact replica of the ships that sped over the waves, striking terror into the hearts of many an English or Irish villager. These were boats that carried many thousands of men, women and children to new lands—the Færoes, Iceland, Greenland and, 500 years before Columbus, to the shores of North America.
The voyage to the New World was relived in the year 2000 by Captain Gunnar Marel Eggertson, sailing the Atlantic Ocean with a crew of fellow Vikings to New York in his hand-built viking ship, the Íslendingur, a voyage of 4,200 nautical miles. His painstaking construction and trip was a triumph of not merely archeology and craftsmanship but of seamanship, also.
Part of the exhibition documents this amazing achievement with 3D graphics and video clips, photos and memorabilia, bringing to life the p
ivotal role such ships played in the expansion of Viking influence as they spread across Europe, trading and pillaging as far south as Constantinople, east through much of Russia, north to Iceland and Greenland and west to N. America.
You’ll find records of some of their journeys in the famous Sagas. These were men, women and children willing to sail into the unknown, with the most primative of navigation equipment, not knowing what they would face, be it new life or painful death.
Their engineering and design brilliance as exemplified in their boats extended to many other aspects of their lives. All around Reykjanes you can see examples of their daily life, culture and history.
At Víkingaheimar, you can also delve into the fascinating world of Norse mythology. The belief in the spiritual world, its gods, goddesses, permeates every aspect of their lives, their arts, crafts, storytelling and music. It is an amazing cultural heritage about which most of the world knows little and yet it is one that played a key role in shaping the early medieval world.
Reykjanesbær was settled very early on and you can see how the people lived. For instance, close to Víkingaheimar is one of the few surviving turf
houses that used to be very common forms of dwelling. In Hafnir, there is an ongoing excavation of a cabin and storehouse from the early Settlement period. All around the area, you will find fascinating historical evidence of Viking life.
Then there is the landscape: this is a wild area, a turbulent hot spot on the planet Earth. Volcanos give mute testimony of the power that has poured out here. Hot springs and thermal areas, with their bright colours are matched by man-made harnessing of these same forces in the Blue Lagoon and Power Plant Earth with its exhibitions of geological and astronomical forces. Here, you can stand on the bridge between the continents—one foot in Europe and the other in America. Look down and you see the powerful tectonic plates grinding against each other in an endless struggle.
Welcome to a world that most people imagine exists only in films but which the Viking descendants live in every day. Welcome to Reykjanesbær!