The Street of Grettir the Strong

Grettisgata, the next street over from Laugavegur in the city center of Reykjavík, is named after Grettir “The Strong” Ásmundarson. He is the main character from the famous Icelandic saga Grettissaga, wich was written in the 13th century. Grettir had a short- and violent temper and was described as very difficult and untalkative in as he grew up. Even so he was considered handsome with red hair and freckles and nice in his early youth but he is first described killing a man at the early age of only 14 in the saga.
Grettisgata runs from Hegningarhúsið at Skólavörðustígur all the way to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Rauðarárstígur and is about 900 meters long.
The first houses on the street were built in the western part in 1902, and the street was completely built up to Snorrabraut, about 30 years later. In the beginning, these were small wooden houses, so-called “sveitserhús”, but it is a Norwegian architectural style that reached the country around the turn of the century, and was adapted to Icelandic conditions. One of the things that characterizes the wooden housing complex on the west side of Grettisgata is the number of back houses, but when the area was being developed, buildings were built equally on front and back lots. Before 1920, the architectural style of Grettisgata changed, when larger stone houses were built on the east side of the street. From the middle of the last century, some of the wooden houses were demolished, and stone blocks were built on the street, so walking along Grettisgatan you can see many architectural styles, from around 1900 until the 1970s.


The start of Grettisgata from Vegamótastígur

The view from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lookin up Grettisgata to the west

Looking down the eastern part of Grettisgata over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairsr

 The corner of Grettisgata and Klapparstígur

Grettisgata down by Snorrabraut

Like experiencing the country life in the middle of the City.

Backyard and Hallgrímskirkja in the background

 Fixing the roof of a backhouse at Grettisgata 

Reykjavík 26/07/2022 :  A7C,  RX1R II : FE 1.4/24mm GM, 2.0/35mm Z

Photos & text : Páll Stefánsson