Plunging Into History
The Settlement Center in Borgarnes Takes You on a Trip Through Time
Some 1100 years ago, Iceland was a place covered with impenetrable forests and dangerous bogs, and it took a bunch of bold men to cross the rough North Atlantic sea, to discover the remote island and determine to settle there, in order to start a new life. They were the first to name rivers, mountains and places that are world famous today, and still many farms are able to trace their history back to the days of the settlement. As the most important source for Iceland’s history rates the saga collection, a ring of exciting stories around these first settlers. Experiencing Iceland thoroughly means paying tribute to their achievements, which made the country what it is today.
A Warehouse Turns Into Exhibitions
In 2006 an Icelandic couple, actor Kjartan Ragnarsson and news reporter Sigríður Margrét Guðmundsdóttir, decided to dedicate a project to the settlement’s story. They found a charming old warehouse in Borgarnes in West Iceland and started building up two exhibitions on the bold men who followed their curiosity into the unknown.
Provided with an audio guide available in 15 languages, visitors find themselves in an elaborate labyrinth that displays history in the most exciting way. Step on a moving boat and get a feeling of how it must have been to cross the ocean in a nutshell! Listen to stories, while bodies preserved in glass silently watch over you. On the lower floor the exhibition on saga hero and settler’s son Egill Skallagrímsson takes you right into the story, with Egill’s spirit joining your steps.
Art Turns Into Life
Visual artists from Iceland and abroad contributed their work to both exhibitions, making perception a unique experience. Each audio tour takes 30 minutes, returning the visitor into daylight with the urgent desire to learn more. The Settlement Center’s shop serves as a treasure chest regarding books on saga literature, as well as viking themed handicrafts and woollen items created by local artists. Take your time to finish your visit with a dinner in the cosy restaurant that perfectly catches the house’s atmosphere and boasts a range of sophisticated Icelandic food at reasonable prices. – DT
The Settlement Center