Hafnarfjörður, a harbor, houses and lava

When Hafnarfjörður, now the third most populous town in the country with more than 30,000 inhabitants, became a marketing town in 1908, 1469 people lived in the town, but there was no real street in the town. Despite having been one of the largest commercial ports in the country since the 15th century. The first English merchant ship to come to Iceland arrived in Hafnarfjörður in 1413, about 50 years later, in 1468 German Hanseatic merchants began sailing to the country, from Björgvin in Norway. They came out on top in the end, since they both offered cheaper and better products than the English, Hafnarfjörður became their main port. King Kristján IV of Denmark closed trade with the Hanseatic merchants, with a decree on monopoly trade in 1602, and Hafnarfjörður, due to its great harbor, was still the country’s main commercial port for the next 150 years. In the 18th century, there was talk of making Hafnarfjörður the capital of Iceland, but the small hinterland and possibilities of harvesting of peat were the main reasons why Reykjavík eventually became the country’s capital.

Today the center of Hafnarfjörður is very special, even unique, where new houses by the harbour meet older houses from the beginning of the last century in the lava that flowed from Búrfell, just south of the town about 8000 years ago. Icelandic Times / Land & Saga walked around the city center to photograph an atmosphere that is… unique.

The northern pier in Hafnarfjörður

Marina, Hafnarfjörður

The Viking Village east of the harbour

The entrance to the Viking Village


The lutheran church in Hafnarfjörður

Restaurant A.Hansen, Vesturgata in Hafnarfjörður

Behind the Hafnarfjörður Museum

Strandgata, Hafnarfjörður’s main shoppingstreet

By Strandgata

Construction sites by Strandgata

Austurgata 31, even the trashcans match the colour of the house

Looking south Austurgata

Photographs & text: Páll Stefánsson
Hafnarfjörður 24/04/2023 : A7C, RX1R II : FE 1.8/20mm G, 2.0/35mm Z