The dynamic and diverse Town of Reykjanesbær
Reykjanesbær, on the Southern Peninsula, Suðurnes, was founded when towns of Keflavík and Njarðvík merged, along with the village of Hafnir, back in 1994. Of these, Kef lavík is known to Icelanders as ‘Beatles-Town’, being Iceland’s answer to Liverpool. The reason for that is Iceland’s first ‘Beatlesband’, Hljómar (Chords) was formed in Keflavík back in 1963. The larger-thanlife band members took Iceland by storm. Today, Hall of Hljómar bears their name, housing Iceland’s Museum of Rock ‘n Roll as well–a must visit for lovers of music. Njarðvík or Bay of Njörðr is adjacent to Keflavík, consisting of outer and inner Njarðvík. In its old town is a stone church built in 1886. Of the three towns that make up the municipality, Keflavík is the largest, while Hafnir is the smallest. Keflavík and Njarðvík had gradually grown together over the course of the latter half of the 20th century, until all that separated them was a single street. The northern side of the street belonged to Keflavík and the southern side to Njarðvík. The town, in recent years, has been one of Iceland’s fastest growing municipalities with twenty thousand inhabitants. Ten kilometres away, Hafnir takes its name from two now deserted farms, and was formerly a thriving fishing community up to the 20th century, but today holds only approximately 100 inhabitants.
Next to Iceland’s International Airport
Iceland’s International Airport is south of Reykjanesbær town. Some five million people will pass through it in 2022, down from seven million 2019. As the covid crisis has passed, predictions for coming years are for up to eight million travellers. Reykjanesbær town serves as a gateway into Iceland, so in recent years excellent hotels and restaurants have begun operations. The US arrived in Iceland in July, 1941 during World War II. They built Keflavík Airport but left after the war, returning at the beginning of the Cold War, as Iceland had joined NATO. Keflavík became a United States Naval Base. The Americans left in 2006, the naval base was closed. The soldiers returned home with their families and staff. They had lived in their own fenced-off town of 5,700 inhavitants.
Today, the former ‘American’ town is a thriving district in Reykjanesbær, named Ásbrú (God’s Bridge) with Keilir University, educational institutions and businesses on the site.
Museums of Reykjanesbær
Duus Museum is the Art and Cultural Centre of the town. It houses the exhibition halls for the local museums, concert halls and halls for mixed cultural activities and is located near the marina at Gróf, overlooking Keflavík bay. On the cliffs surrounding the Duus Marina is a foot path where one might catch a glimpse of whales swimming nearby. The oldest of the Duus Houses is the Harbour house, built 1877. Danish merchant Hans Peter Duus [1795-1868] had the house built as a warehouse for Duus company. There is also the unique Skessa Hellir
(Giantess Cave). The design and creation of the cave and the Giantess were in the hands of the North Storm Art Group., A skessa –a Giantess or Troll woman— is said to have come to the rescue of fishermen during a powerful storm. Njarðvík is the home of Víkingaheimar – the Viking World Museum with its Viking ship, the Icelander that, in the Millennium year 2000, sailed across the Atlantic to New York to commemorate the thousand-year anniversary of Leif Erikson’s discovery of America. The Icelandic Fire Brigade Museum, with its huge trucks from the time of Iceland’s Defence Force, may be of interest for truck enthusiasts. At Hafnir village to the south, ruins dating prior to The Settlement are being excavated. The mysterious four-thousandton ghost ship Jamestown stranded at Hafnir in 1881 with no-one aboard. It was crossing the Atlantic bound for Liverpool with high quality lumber. The crew had abandoned the rudderless ship in heavy seas, and four months later it ran ashore at Hafnir.
Surrounded by unique nature
The Reykjanes Peninsula’s nature is marked by active volcanoes and lava fields. Reykjanesbær is surrounded by unique nature. There are numerous hot springs around the Kleifarvatn lake and the Krýsuvík geothermal area with the geothermal power-station at Svartsengi and the world-famous Blue Lagoon. At Gunnuhver geyser, visitors can hear the vigorous noise, see the boiling water and feel the power and steam bursting from the ground. The geyser stands in the heart of Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark, where the North Atlantic Ridge rises from the ocean, with over one hundred different craters and lava fields, bird cliffs, high geothermal areas and black sand beaches. The Bridge between Continents spans the Álfagjá or Elves’ Ravine that marks the boundary of the Eurasian and American continental tectonic plates, enabling visitors to walk from one continent to the other.
The black sandy beaches inspired Clint Eastwood to recreate the battle of Iwo Jima in his movie Flag of our Fathers