There are few streets in Reykjavík, if any, that have changed in their appearance as much as Borgartún through the years, a street that runs from Snorrabraut east to Kringlumýrarbraut. In the first planning draft for Reykjavík, which was approved in 1927, they planned for the capital to fit within the Hringbraut / Snorrabraut area. In the 1940s, the settlement had begun to stretch east of Snorrabraut, and around the middle of the 20th century, following the Second World War, the neighbourhoods Hlíðar and Rauðarárholt were getting developed. Then Laugarnes was developed, and at the same time commercial activities got started up along the coastline, where Borgartún is now located. In the master plan from 1962, the area where Borgartún is now was defined as a mixed industrial and warehouse area. After all, many companies had already set up warehouses, such as Eimskip, in the area and several machinery workshops and car workshops on large lots characterized Borgartún’s streetscape. In the last 40 years, the street has completely changed in its appearance, large office buildings now characterize the street, as Borgartún was a symbol of the financial collapse of 2008, but a number of financial companies were and still are at Borgartún. Also companies like Hagstofa Íslands, the national Registers  Iceland, Origo, the country’s largest technology company, as well as a number of restaurants. The Freemasonry has a building at Borgartún, The Icelandic Road Administration has been there for almost 70 years but is moving soon, and there are two embassies on the street, at the northern end of Snorrabraut, the Chinese one, and the Polish one, on the corner of Þórunnartún and Borgartún. The City of Reykjavík has most of its office staff opperating from Höfðatorg by Borgartún. Diagonally opposite Höfðatorg is Höfði, Reykjavík’s reception hall, one of the capital’s best-known buildings, where US President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev held a famous meeting in October 1986, a meeting that marked the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. If they were alive today, they would probably not recognize the surroundings again in Borgartún, where they sat together during marathon meetings on October 11th and 12th 37 years ago.


They are still building and developing in Borgartún

Turninn at Höfðtorg reaches for the sky

A part of the Berlin Wall… in Borgartún

Looking east from Borgartún, Hrafnista in the background

Looking down, west from Borgartún, the Polish embassy at the front in the photo

The Chinese embassy

The headquarters of Origo

The headquarters of Arion bank

Photographs & text: Páll Stefánsson
Reykjavík 29/08/2023 : RX1R II, A7C, A7R V : 2.0/35mm Z, FE 2.8/100mm GM, FE 1.8/14mm GM