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History and Culture

Bjartmarssteinn

Vaðalfjöll, the mountains above Bjarkalundur, and Bjartmarssteinn are beautiful and special rock formations that you can't find in many other places. People in Reykhólar believe that Bjartmarssteinn has something to do with elves, also referred to as the hidden people, and stories say that it is their trading post in Breiðafjörður.

Burial ground of Sæunn

Sæunn the wonder-cow is a special cow which saved her own life from getting slaughtered by swimming over the cold Atlantic ocean fjord of Önundarfjörður in october 1987. The cow lived sex years after the big achievement but when it died this wonder-cow was buried near the ocean where it reached shore. Now this area has the name Sæunnarhaugur or Sæunn burial ground. This swim achievement was in Icelandic news as well as world news because of the rareness of cows willing to swim such a long distance in the cold Atlantic ocean.

Flatey island

Breiðafjörður is the second biggest fjord in Iceland as it stretches 70 km where it is widest. Where the fjord gets more shallow there are almost uncountable number of islands but if we would have to guess a number, they would be around 2800. Many of those islands were inhabited few decades ago but now almost all are uninhabited. Flatey is the one exception. Flatey is the biggest of the islands in Breiðafjörður. It also is the only island in Breiðafjörður where inhabitants live the whole year round. The inhabitants count as many as 6 persons but during summertime the population multiplies. Many of the other islands in Breiðafjörður used to be inhabited not so long ago like Hvallátur, Svefneyjar and Akureyjar. All the islands have one thing in common. They are all made by the force of glaciers in the ice age. The islands are mostly flat and the geological layers are similar to the ones on the Westfjords. In most of the islands there are many plants and the birdlife is diverse with puffin, eider and black guillemot being the kings of the fjord along with the White-tailed-Eagle. The history tells us that the people that lived in Breiðafjörður never had to deal with shortage of food because of the plentyful gifts of nature such as birds, fish and shells. When there were bad conditions and food shortage was common in Iceland, people fled to Breiðafjörður bay where there was plenty of food for everyone.

Osvor Museum

The museum consists of a replica of a 19th century double fishing booth, salt-shed, fish drying platform and a fish drying shed. It also has on display the fishing boat Ölver that represents the type of boats that were used for fishing at earlier times. The museum gives a realistic picture of the accommodation offered to fishermen of the 19th century, during the harsh winter fishing seasons. Dressed in the traditional protective clothing, made of skin, the curator guides visitors around the museum, offering a unique glimpse of a long gone past. The museum is located beside the road into Bolungarvík on the east side of the bay.

For more information on the museum click here.

Samuel's Sculptures in Selardalur

Samúel Jónsson´s outstanding naive sculptures and buildings in Selárdalur valley in Arnarfjordur had been rapidly decaying when a society for it´s restoration was founded in 1998. This society is a non-profit organization and has had collaboration with the German sculptor Gerhard König and some others to work on the restoration during the past years in cooperation with the landowner, the ministry of agriculture. Groups of volunteers from Germany have been working together with Gerhard König during the past summers. In the summer of 2008 the plan is to pull down Samúel´s living house in order to build there a new house with a similar front that can serve as a guesthouse for artists and scholars. It´s planned to have the museum ready in 2009.

Straumnes

Straumnesfjall is a mountain above Aðalvík in Hornstrandir. From the village of Látrar there is an old road that leads you up to the mountain. During the years of 1953-1956 the American army built a radar station on top of the mountain and serviced the army for about 10 years. Now there are only wrecked houses, roads and flatlands that used to serve as an airport that tell the story of the American army in Hornstrandir. The Army built a new radar station on top of mount Bolafjall, above the town Bolungarvík, which served the army until it left iceland in the beginning of this century. Now all the radar stations in Iceland are owned by the Icelandic Coast Guard. Radarstöðin á Bolafjalli, ofan Bolungarvíkur, var byggð til þess að taka við af þessari stöð og er hún enn í notkun en er rekin af Landhelgisgæslu Íslands eftir að herinn fór af landi brott. Many people in Hornstrandir got a job connected to the american army, and you can only imagine what Hornstrandir area would have become if the station did not shut down. We leave the thougt for you to think about when you're in the area.

The deserted Herring Factory in Ingólfsfjörður

The factory was constructed by the company Ingólfur hf. during the years of 1942-1944. The main reason why the factory was built was because of the growing herring stock coming in to Húnaflói bay. The fishing failed some years after the factory was built and therefore the factory was closed in 1952.

the Graveyard of the french seamen

The connection between France and Iceland plays a big role in the story of Þingeyri and Dýrafjörður. What's left of this connection can easily be seen in, the well taken care of, graveyard of the french seamen in Haukadalur. The French came to Iceland to use the wealthy fishing grounds in the 18th and 19th century. The French also had an idea of colonizing Dýrafjörður as a fishing station and a Army station.

The Old Blacksmith's Workshop

The old Blacksmith's Workshop was founded by Gudmundur J Sigurdsson in 1913, but Gudmundur came back to Thingeyri in 1903 after learning the trade in Denmark. The machine shop was one of the first if its kind in Iceland and leading in the development in the trade.

Today the museum includes all the old machines and blacksmith operation are still in their almost original state. This is a living museum, where visitors can experience the old machine shop as time has stood still. An amazing atmosphere for all ages.

The stone of Þuríður Sundafyllir

In the year 1975 was put up a memorial stone for Þuríður Sundayllir, the first known settler of Boungarvík. The stone, which is called Þuríðarsteinn or the stone of Þuríður is situated in Vatnsnes where people think Þuríður's settlement was in the beginning.

The whaling station in Suðureyri

Suðureyri is located in the district of Tálknafjarðarhreppur. Suðureyri is situated on the south side of the fjord of Tálknafjörður and was the location of an old whaling station built at the end of the 19th century by Norwegian whale hunters. The station was on and off operation for around 50 years until the year 1939 and is now deserted. During its busiest times around 110 people lived and worked at the station. Today the great buildings are grand monuments of times past.

Westfjords of Iceland

Towns & Villages

The sparsely populated Westfjords region is home to more towns and villages than you might imagine – and each has its own unique atmosphere and attractions.
Get to know more about them here. 

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Map Bolungarvík Hnífsdalur Suðureyri Flateyri Ísafjörður Súðavík Þingeyri Bíldudalur Tálknafjörður Patreksfjörður Hólmavík Drangsnes Reykhólar Borðeyri Djúpavík Norðurfjörður Norðurfjörður