#shoreline

As the name implies, there are some interesting sculptures along the Sculpture and Shore walk in Reykjavík. Although sculptures are often quite visible placed on a foundation for display others are not so obvious. By the shoreline at Sæbraut street, the city of Reykjavík built a breakwater to protect the shoreline against the mighty waves and forces of the ocean.  It is two and a half kilometer long wall starting in the City Center all the way to Laugarnes. By the breakwater is a popular walking path.

The Shore Piece Sculpture by Sigurður Guðmundsson

 

Once upon a time in Iceland, there was a mountain full of the material spar. It was at a remote location by the Helgustaðir farm, east of Eskifjörður. It existed simply to please those who were living in the area – or traveling from Eskifjörður to Vöðlavík. Then, spar became a commodity and mining commenced. Spar is a type of calcite crystal, completely transparent and can split light into two parallel beams. It was a vital component in the early microscopes, and the Icelandic spar was exceptionally clear. As a result, large quantities were exported to Europe from the 17th century, until the quarry was closed down in 1924.  The largest piece removed from Helgustaðanáma weighed 220 kilos and can is to be found in the British Natural History Museum.

A preserved mine with an interesting history

Today, Helgustaðanáma is preserved. It is partially open to visitors who will have to brave a 50 m hike uphill to reach the mouth of the quarry. Inside the cave left over from days of mining and money you can still see rocks sparkling with calcite. The area has been a natural reserve since 1975. It is strictly forbidden to remove even the smallest of samples from the quarry.

A great place to have a view over the fjords

And, as you are already there, you might like to enjoy the uninhabited country to the north of the mine, with hiking trails crossing mountains and valleys.  Even at the mine you have a spectacular view over the fjords, Reyðarfjörður, and Eskifjörður.  

hallormsstaðaskógur

Below is the location of Helgustaðanáma on the map of Iceland

Helgustaðanáma

 

Icelanders have always been keen mountain climbers; they have even written poems about climbing mountains, falling, scraping and cutting themselves – but always getting to the top. Still, there is at least one mountain in Iceland you simply can't climb: Eystrahorn in the southeast part of East Iceland. It is a mere 756 m, but made up of gabbro and granophyre and extremely steep, Landslides are almost a constant, so much so, that even the great Sysiphus wouldn't even be able to get started.

Unusual materials that give Eystrahorn a wonderful color

Still, Eystrahorn is impressive to look at. During the ages precious minerals have been found there, such as gold, silver and mercury. Much to the Icelander's dismay, only in small quantities so don't even take out you teaspoon to embark on a quest to get rich quickly. The presence of those minerals gives Eystrahorn a wonderful color, emphasized by the black, sandy beach running all they way to its sister mountain, Vestrahorn.

The whole surrounding is a feast for the eye and photographers

The area between the mountains Vestrahorn and Eystrahorn is called, "Lón," meaning lagoon and sports an incredibly varied birdlife. It is the first stop after a very long flight for millions of migratory birds.  It is usually packed with birdlife and quite an impressive stop.  When you pass the slopes at Eystrahorn on the Ring Road heading further east, an even more impressive sight opens up.  It is fully worthed to stop and view the cliffs by the shore.  There are at least three stops where you can take your time and view the magnificent cliffs that constantly are battered by the Atlantic Ocean.

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Below is the location of Eystrahorn on the map of Iceland

Eystrahorn in the south-east part of East Iceland

 

Selatangar is an old fishing stations and one of the few around the coast of Iceland that is remaining, although only as ruins.  Throughout the centuries, from the early 14th century and up until the late 19th century, fishing stations were essential for most farms and families in Iceland in their effort to sustain. For many farms, it was part of their livelihood. Even though Iceland was an agricultural society, many families and farms needed to add fish to their meals to sustain because the farms did not always have the capacity to feed them and the farms could not grow grain. Also, fish was one of two commodities Icelanders could give merchants who came to Iceland from Europe and offered interesting products otherwise unavailable. Products like corn, alcohol, coffee, and a variety of textile, to name a few.  But life at a fishing station was probably one of the most challenging ways to make a living throughout the history of the country.   

The many fishing stations around the coast

Throughout the centuries, Icelanders built about 140 fishing stations around the coast.  Early on in the Commonwealth time and the 13th and 14th century, most fishing stations were at Reykjanes Peninsula and the Westfjords.  Fishing stations were usually built near rich fishing grounds and also required a good landing place.  Since all of the fishing was done on rowing boats, so called six-oar rowing boats, the distance to fishing grounds had to be near the shore. Not until the beginning of the 20th century did fishing posts develop into hamlets or villages.  Up until that time fishing stations were mostly provisional and “homes” to farmers and workers from the beginning of February until the beginning of May.  During that period the fishing station was the home and workplace and the place where men took their rowing boats out to the open sea to catch fish. One reason that this was not done during summer was the fact that every individual and every hand was needed at the farm to collect hey and prepare for winter.  The downside was the fact that the time from February to May is the most difficult time of year in Iceland as it is the time of our worst weather and winter storms. This often made life at the fishing post a living disaster.

A very difficult life at Selatangar and most other fishing stations

Visiting Selatangar one cannot help but be amazed at the hardship, and severe circumstances people had to endure at these fishing stations. Set on the south coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula, a short distance from Grindavík, Selatangar was an important fishing station for centuries until the 1880s. The cluster of shacks and huts built into the black lava, often little more than caves is nothing less than incredible.  All that remains today are the foundations of the shore-side dwellings, but enough to give you a good idea of the terrifying way of life and conditions the fishermen had to withstand. Living in haphazardly structured stone cottages, by the raging Atlantic Ocean, with no electricity, limited access to water and ruthless weather conditions. To make thanks even worse it was mostly at a time when daylight is shorter and the dark is longer.  So it did not take a lot of imagination to give wings to stories of ghosts like Tanga-Tómas, who used to harass the fishermen at Selatangar, and probably still does. It wouldn’t surprise us if the ghost has teamed up with its neighbor, Gunna at Gunnuhver to scare people traveling at the Reykjanes Peninsula.  They are both still at large, so be aware and careful when visiting Selatnagar.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
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Below is the location of Selatangar on the map of Iceland

Throughout the centuries, Icelanders built about 140 fishing stations around the coast.