Offering a wealth of information, the Settlement Center provides a wonderful insight into Iceland’s history. It also gives you the chance to put your visit into the context of the country’s past. The exhibitions recreate the fascinating drama of the sagas and the birth of this island nation. They also bring to life one of Iceland’s most important cultural treasures, Egils Saga.
Making the sagas accessible
The goal is to make the ancient sagas accessible to all ages, scholars and non scholars alike. Rather than a traditional museum, the Settlement Center is an installation. Multi-media and theatrical techniques are employed to help the visitor experience first hand the excitement of setting off over the open ocean for lands unknown.
Two unique exhibitions
There are two entertaining and educational exhibitions at the Settlement Center. While one tells the story of the first settlers, the other reveals the story of Iceland’s most important saga – Egils Saga. Egill Skalla-Grimson was a famous Viking and poet, and his saga is closely linked to the settlement period, as his father was one of the first settlers.
Audio guides to the history of a nation
These audio guided storytelling programs are available in 15 languages. They will give you the fascinating background you need to understand the history of this nation.
The Settlement Exhibition
Five hundred and fifty years ahead of Columbus, in the days before the sextant, courageous Scandinavians dared to sail across the Atlantic. These adventurers discovered a large untouched island and claimed the land as their own. The Settlement Era of Iceland had begun. We know the names of three hundred and fifty of these individuals, and we know their stories, thanks to The Book of Icelanders and The Book of the Settlement
A unique record of an ancient nation
The Book of Icelanders and The Book of Settlement, preserved for nearly a thousand years, are among the most highly valued of Iceland’s national treasures. These two ancient volumes are a meticulously written record of the founding of Iceland. They were written in the 13th century, most likely both by Ari Frodi (Ari the wise). No other nation can boast such articulate descriptions of the ways and times of their founding fathers, or benefits from such a unique advantage in tracing its historical roots.
From settlement to the world’s first parliament
The Settlement exhibition provides an insight into the settlement of Iceland based on these sources. It tells how the land was discovered, how the Viking sailors conquered the open ocean and why they left their homelands in Norway. It tells of the first men to set foot on the island and how the land was settled up to the establishment of the first parliament in the world, the Althing, at Thingvellir in 930AD.
A multi-media experience
Multi-media and theatrical techniques are employed to help you experience the trepidation and excitement of setting off over the open ocean for lands unknown. Audio guides take you on a voyage of discovery and are available in 15 languages; Icelandic, English, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, German, French, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Dutch. A complete circuit of one exhibition takes about 30 minutes.
The Egil Saga Exhibition
The Saga of Egill Skalla-Grimsson, profiles the hero who gives his name to Egils Saga as one of the most colorful of all the saga heroes. Egil was the son Skalla-Grimur Kveldulfsson, who was one of the very first Viking settlers, and who claimed the land around Borgarnes. Egils Saga thus provides a perfect vehicle for following one family clan as they settle in Iceland. Egill himself was a larger than life character. He was both a great sensitive poet and also a fierce warrior and Viking. The saga is a complex and vibrant intertwining of battles and love affairs, magic and witchcraft. The saga is complex but we have simplified it for you in this 30 minutes synopsis.
The world of Egill Skalla-Grimsson brought to life
The exhibition is set in the sunken stone cellar of the warehouse. The commentary leads you through a labyrinth-like display and into the fantastic adventures of the saga. The saga is brought to life through the work of many different artists, mainly using wood. The exhibition is atmospheric and ghostly, with dim lighting and skeletons – which is probably why kids love it. As one young visitor put it: “I was scared, but I want to go again!”
Audio guides are available in 15 languages; Icelandic, English, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, German, French, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Dutch. A complete circuit of one exhibition takes about 30 minutes.