If you already had a day tour in Reykjavik and you into escaping the city for a bit and enjoying some nature, culture and art. You better visit Videy Island (Viðey in Icelandic).
Videy located in the North-East side of Reykjavik and even though it placed just 300 meters from the Reykjavik strand and it size is only 1.7 square kilometers. Yet, it is a real island that been created in a volcanic eruption over 2 million years ago. It is the oldest solid land that been formed in Reykjavik area.
Sailing to the island can be a fun excursion out of Reykjavik with the advantage that there no need to drive far, since sailing to Videy Island takes only few minutes and enable you to see Reykjavik's skyline from the sea side. The settlement in Videy began around 900AD (just like the rest of Iceland) and through the years, fishing and small-scale agriculture have been developed. In the 13th century a church and a monastery been established and conceded as one of the oldest churches that been built in Iceland.
The habitation in the island continued all along the period that Iceland been under the Norwegian and Danish regime. At the 18th century Skúli Magnússon - Iceland's Treasurer under the Danish crown, set his official residence in the island. And The "Viðey House" which is the main building in Videy till this days been built for him.
During he's time in there, he tried to develop in Videy agriculture of different kinds of plants, such as; tobacco, potatoes and spices. These agricultural experiment had partial success due to the hard weather conditions.
Over the years till the 20th century, Videy's controlling passed hands between powerful families that ruled Iceland.
One of the largest dairy farms of that time been founded, the first port serving ships sailing out of Iceland been activated from there and the main fishing Company (The Million Company) has established its company headquarters in Videy.
It was the golden age of the place around 1914-1930 with a record number of 138 Inhabitants.
But due to the failure of the fishing company and the opening of a central harbor in Reykjavik, the island emptied of inhabitants and the last resident left in the 50s.
Today Videy Island is owned by the National Museum of Iceland.
The main building on the island, established at 1755. Inside it there is an exhibition portraying Videy's history and a café – restaurant. It is highly recommended to take a sit there in the end of the visit, enjoying a nice cup of coffee and traditional Icelandic waffle. While looking through the big windows towards the boat that docking in the little pier and will take you back to Reykjavik.
IMAGINE PEACE TOWER
Work of art created by Yoko Ono, dedicated to her late husband - the legendary John Lennon and he's hope for world peace in the famous song – "Imagine"
As you can see in the photo, the sculpture is in form of a wishing well that the words "peace" and "imagine" are engraved on it in multiple languages.
Every year on October 9th (Lennon's Birthday) there is a festive ceremony with the attendance of Yoko Ono herself. In which a strong light beam lit from the bottom of the well for the sake of hope and peace in the world.
This vertical white stripe shines in the Reykjavik sky until December 8th (the date Lennon been murdered).
"ÁFANGAR" – MILESTONES"
Work of art erected by the American artist Richard Serra in 1990 and consist pairs of basalt pillars along Videy coastline. The pillars are parallel to each other and in each pair; one pillar stands 9 meters above sea level and the second pillar stands 10 meters from sea level.
Yet, even though each pillar has different length. For the observer, both basalt pillars seems like they have the same height because of the different ground level they been placed on.
In the west side of the island, there is a memorial stone with the propeller of HMCS Skeena.
Skeena was a River-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy. During WW2 she served the British army in the north of the Atlantic Ocean and in October 1944 was in a mission near Iceland's west shore. On October 24th due to a strong storm, Skeena was flooded and drifted nearby Videy Island.
In the brave rescue mission operated by Icelandic rescue team, the crew pulled from the ship and dragged onto the shores of Videy Island. Most of the crew members survived though 15 announced as dead or missing.
Towards the end of August-begging of September, a traveler arriving to Videy will be surprised to notice men, women and children bending over between the pathways with their face focused on the ground.
Well, it's all because they are picking caraway seeds. The caraway plant arrived to the island in the 18th century as part of Skúli Magnússon's experiment to develop agriculture in Videy. Unlike the other species that been tested, the caraway plant acclimatized successfully and flourish wild. Everybody can feel free to pick their own seeds.
On sunny days the black sand on Videy's beach getting warmer and can be very pleasant lying on. Thanks to it dark color the sand swallowing inside it the sun energy and becomes nicely hot. If you brave enough you can try swimming in the sea and dry yourself after on the warm sand.
Remember however that, swimming in the sea is solely on your own responsibility. So the recommendation is just too deep the legs inside. Around the island there are walking trails and children playground.
Information regarding ferry schedule you can find here: videy.com