In this second installment (cf. part 1) of our walk around one of the neighborhoods in Reykjavik, I’d like to share a couple of impressions of the mixture of architecture in the small area that we explored. The area where we wandered around is the Old West Side, Vesturbær.
This section is the earliest area of Reykjavik to be settled, starting around 1800. When walking through the area, one of the things that stands out is that the older structures are slowly being surrounded by newer architecture that rises up around these houses and looms over them.
Hlíðarhús (sign on the structure) were small farms in the Reykjavik area, which stood near the current Vesturbær; Vesturbær used to take its name from them, when it was called Hlíðarhústastigur. This particular house stands surrounded by concrete edifices, and an inspiring mural art work.
The Vesturbær area is definitely upscale, and sought-after in the real estate market. There are several foreign missions sprinkled across the neighborhood, which still has its regular feel as well.
With real estate at a premium, space utilization should be optimized. The people that live here understand how to do that, as a balcony is a good spot to put the bicycle.
The overall layout of Vesturbær is somewhat haphazard, as the turn of the 20th century didn’t include a lot of city planning, as Reykjavik was expanding. It does make for a cozy neighborhood feeling, as houses might be tucked in great spots and you get to know your neighbors!
This more modern-looking house had found a perfect spot in the Vesturbær neighborhood. Even here it is evident that much thought was given to how to best fit in the space afforded.
As we walked up and down streets throughout the area, I couldn’t help but get a sense of the old town charm that exists here.
It’s amazing to think that streets like this one are a mere 5 minutes’ walk away from hyper-modern structures, such as the Harpa Concert Hall and Meeting Space…
More about that in the next installment!