Amazingly, in the second half of the 18th century, this tiny village was the home and center of operation for Iceland’s most prominent entrepreneur, Ólafur Thorlacius. Soon after the notorious Danish–Icelandic Trade Monopoly was abolished; Ólafur purchased all its assets and expanded his operation beyond anything comparable in Iceland at that time. Ólafur exported fish to Spain in his vessels from Bíldudalur and owned decked vessels when most people only had rowing boats. Quite interestingly, Ólafur found opportunities in a remote place that most people connected with hardship and difficulties, to build one of the largest operations of its time, and accumulate wealth. In his lifetime, he expanded to other towns and probably became one of the wealthiest individuals in the country.
Bíldudalur is a small village with an interesting history
Fortunately for Bíldudalur, some of his successors took the operation to another level. For almost two centuries, Bíldudalur was one of the busiest towns in import and export in Iceland. More houses built in the 19th century than in most places in Iceland. As dashing as the village history might be in the 18th and 19th century, the village took a downturn in the 20th century and has never gained its former glory. Today it is a small struggling community, but still deepening on fish and fisheries as its primary economic base. Like most of the small villages in the West Fjords, it has been hit hard by the fishing quota system the Icelandic Government created in 1990.
Today a struggling municipal like many West Fjords villages
Bíldudalur is part of the municipal Vesturbyggð that also includes the small village of Patreksfjörður. The community offers the standard quality services provided by towns and villages in Iceland, a preschool, an elementary and middle school, a library, and a community center. The municipal collaborates in the Snæfellsnes high school, which has an annex in Patreksfjörður. There is also a good sports center. The fact that small towns in Iceland have good access to education and sports reflects the high value placed on education, well-being, and care for others in the community.
Most of the houses in Bíldudalur are single-family houses from the fifties, sixties, and seventies and all houses are heated with electricity. Bíldudalur also offers accommodation a good camping site and a convenient store.
If you are going to visit the Westfjords in Iceland you might be looking for a places to stay. Here you can book from a selection of accommodationin the Bíldudalur region.