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Reykjavik, Iceland

13 Feb, 2009

Reykjavik, Iceland

The qualities of your dream city can be found in Reykjavik—clean air, lively culture, pristine nature, wide space and fun. The capital city of Iceland undoubtedly has all the necessary and outstanding features of sophisticated and forward-looking society, complemented by affinity to the breathtaking nature present right at the city doorstep. The city is also the most modern and the biggest in the country. Logically, Reykjavik stands to be the governmental and economic heart of Iceland. It is also a popular and ideal tourism destination.
As the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik is easily recognized as the national and regional center of population, government and commerce. The city is apparently a modernized capital of a country that is known to be one of the most developed and progressive nations in the world. Thus, city infrastructure is very well developed and inhabitants and guests are treated with no less than first-class system for welfare. Grist Magazine ranked Reykjavik as the top city in its list of 15 Greenest Cities in 2008.
Needless to say, Reykjavik is a sure great tourism site. Visitors surely will enjoy being in the city, whether for cultural nourishment, recharging of energies or unbridled fun. Pure energy and enjoyment is facilitated by the natural green energy, lively culture, boiling underground thermal energy and of course, fun-filled nightlife.

Geography

The site is situated southwest of Iceland. Its exact geographic location makes it the most northern capital city of any country in the world. For further geographic reference, Reykjavik can be found at Faxafloi’s southern shore. The coastline is popularly and perfectly featuring a host of attractive islands, coves, peninsulas and straits.
Researchers believe that Reykjavik was the location of Iceland’s first ever permanent settlement. The city is at the heart of the Greater Reykjavik Area, the sole metropolitan area in the country. Due to its geographic location, slightly south from the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik has the shortest day during winter as it receives only four hours of daylight all throughout the season. During summer, nights are interestingly as bright as days. Many tourists are fond and are awed by the odd daylight duration.
More interestingly, even if Reykjavik has an extreme north Atlantic geography, it is warmer than in most locations having the same latitude. Scientists explain that the warm water in the Gulf Stream contributes to the moderation of the Icelandic coastal climate especially during winter. Also, the coastal location makes it more prone to wind, though gales could become common during winter. Summers are cool, with average temperatures of about 10°C to 15°C.

History

Ingolfur Arnarson, Iceland’s first settler, was believed to have built his farm in the site where Reykjavik is standing right now. During that time (about 9th and 10th centuries), the country was settled by Celtic and Norwegian immigrants. ‘Reykjavik’ means ‘Smoky Bay’. The name must had been coined from the thick columns of steam, which rose from the area’s hot springs that then made a profound impression among original settlers.
In the middle of 18th century, the farm was turned into a small town through the efforts of Royal Treasurer Skuli Magnusson, now referred to as the sole Father of Reykjavik. Mr. Magnusson set up wool workshops in the town then in an effort to partly modernize the Icelandic community. The beginnings of urban development spurred from there. In 1786, Reykjavik had its initial town charter.

Tourism

Reykjavik apparently has beautiful and vast landscape, making it ideal for innumerable outdoor recreations and activities. Tourists are almost always impressed by Reykjavik’s proximity to nature and its outstanding cleanliness. Meanwhile, lovers of culture and the arts are also in for great and enchanting experiences in the city. The buzzing cultural scene is molded by contemporary art and sagas. There are regular theatrical events, cultural performances and innovative musical happenings, which all succeed in keeping tourists and locals entertained all throughout the year.
The charm of the city lies in its numerous peculiar contrasts. Reykjavik has an interesting combination of big-city zeal and village innocence. Darkly cynical citizens add to the delight of guests. Inhabitants are oozing with enthusiasm and unstoppable creativity. Nightlife is odd, but fun and exclusive. In summer, the streets are filled with party lovers who have fun hanging out at 22 hours of sunlight. In winter, night hangouts are longer as blizzards scour the seemingly never-ending nights.
Sightseers need to prepare for an Icelandic enchantment. On top of the must-see edifices is Hallgrimskirkja, the biggest church in the country and an occasional observation tower. The Kringlan mall should be checked out because it is the second largest shopping complex in Iceland and is home to several theaters, stores, pubs and even a public library. Perlan is an impressive landmark because the glass dome is located on a hill with five hot-water storage tanks. The interesting Smaratorg 3 is a 20-storey office building with numerous stores, gyms, restaurants and other tourist boutiques.
Do you need to be further awed? Visit Laugavegur, which is among the most ancient Icelandic shopping streets. There are shopping stalls leading to the Laugardalur hot springs, where women took their laundry during the olden times. Despite the rise of shopping malls, the place has successfully retained its charm as a vibrant and historical shopping street. The site is also teeming with many nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Weekend nights are usually filled with party people.
For tourists who come for relaxation activities, the Blue Lagoon is a top favorite spot. The site is actually a geothermal spa. The steamy water running through it is rich in sulfur and silica, which makes it a popular bathing place for people with skin ailments like psoriasis. Despite its geography and climate, there is a beach in Reykjavik. Nautholsvik is interestingly a beach that is heated artificially. Believe it or not, Nautholsvik is popular for sailing and surfing especially during summer in the area. In the center can be found the Siglunes Sailing Club for pleasure cruises, sail boating and rowing.

Reykjavik, Iceland

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