Icelandic Architecture: Those Cute Colorful Houses
The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja!
To be honest, I did minimal research about Iceland before I went. I figured out a few things that I really wanted to do (Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, etc.) but I didn’t do a whole lot of research into the culture (and certainly not the language, sorry, Icelanders). But one thing I did see in my Googling around before the trip were websites that had photos of the architecture and that Reykjavik was known for having super cute colorful little houses.
So, what did I do while I was in Reykjavik? I made sure to take photos of as many of them as possible. Do you want to know why the houses are all different colors? It’s because they used to not have numbers, so if you needed to find where someone lived, you would go to the red house on XXX street.
Do you know another city where the same locating pattern was used? In the Old Town of Warsaw, Poland.
According to my research, most of the traditional Icelandic houses in Reykjavik that you think of when you think of the city were imported during the 19th century straight from Denmark. If you didn’t know: Iceland was a Danish colony until they established their independence in 1944 on June 17th (happy belated birthday, Iceland!). The best of the best in Denmark designed these houses, architects like Nicolai Eigtved and Lauritz de Thurah.
These houses were 100% wooden until a fire tore through the city in 1915 and they outlawed the building of new wooden houses. The houses that didn’t perish in the fires were covered with metal siding over the wood.
Another fun fact: Buildings that are over 100 years old automatically become landmarked!
Now, onto the photos.
I also spotted this adorable cat sitting in front of these beautifully colored houses in downtown Reykjavik.
An example of the amazing street art found in downtown Reykjavik.
I was Googling “street art in Reykjavik” while I was there and I found this website that pointed out these two identical doorways, one of which has a cat in it. I walked around and around looking for it. Turns out that it was around the corner from my hostel.
You can see the painting fraying a little bit on the right doorway so it’s more obvious that it’s fake, but it’s still super cool!
I loved walking around and photographing these houses. If I were to move to Reykjavik, I would definitely have a little colorful house, preferably a bright pink one.