T he city of Reykjavik in Iceland is but a crying baby in terms of its age compared to all other cities in Europe. But that does not mean it has no old lovely quarter.
Quarter might actually be a stretch. The area in question is more like a couple of tiny and eerily silent streets. But tiny or not, Reykjavik actually has a beating heart older than 50 years or so. That area is known locally as Grjotaþorp which translates as Rock village.
It´s also great for a “blissful romantic moment” after stumbling drunk from the nearest bar
Truth be told, one can take in all of Grjotatorp in all of twenty minutes or so by walking slowly. The name applies to the buildings found in the few narrow and cobbled streets found immediately west of what is known as the center of downtown Reykjavik (see map).
Now, while we are fond of this area as most locals are, the area will not tempt anyone from the other Nordic nations. Reason being that Grjotatorp village is but a copy of similar, but much larger, old villages and towns found widely in Scandinavia. This place is purely for those from elsewhere and fascinated by old mostly wooden buildings. It´s also great for a “blissful romantic moment” after stumbling drunk from the nearest bar as the area gives a bit of relief from the noisy streets of the center.
Jokes aside, Grjotatorp is worth your walk. Most buildings here, but not all, are really old by Iceland standards although most buildings here have been refurbished time and time again. On the plus side there are real people living in these houses which is not always the case elsewhere.
A number of buildings here have made local history for one thing or another but none of that history is likely to make foreigners drool much. Tales can be told of Icelandic cultural icons meeting in places here as are stories about famous local novels being written in these old buildings. But the names in question are unknown outside of the country for the most part and will mean nothing to you.
If you visit Iceland you are most likely staying in Reykjavik and most likely in a hotel in the center. Since Grjotatorp is but seconds and minutes away this is no detour should you wish to see Reykjavik as it was long ago. We recommend it highly.
Oh, and the reason for that name? Sadly, it has little to do with the buildings or the cobbled streets. The name relates to an old farm that once stood in this area. A farm called the Rock.