Reykjavík Harbor: Finding Beauty in the Industrial


Reykjavík Harbor in Grandi

Reykjavik harbour has served Icelanders fresh fish for over a century. In downtown Reykjavik, just a few minutes' walk from ODDSSON ho(s)tel, you will find our industrial yet charming harbour. 

For many years the Grandi neighbourhood, where the harbour is located, operated mainly as a fishing port. Filled with large companies processing fish for export, the neighbourhood was seen as purely industrial, a bit of an eyesore. 

Traditional Industries Alongside New Development

It wasn’t until a few years ago, when tourism increased and the downtown area spread its arms further, that restaurants, concept stores and speciality shops opened up in the area, giving the neighbourhood a much needed face-lift. 

Though there have been new developments in the area, the harbour’s role remains the same. Trawlers and long-line fishing ships deliver tons of fresh catch to the port each day, with processing handled at the freezing planet next door. 

One of the harbour's businesses, the shipyard Stjálsmiðjan Framtak, is one of the largest shipbuilders in Iceland. It manufactures vessels, trawlers and other products in the Reykjavik port. 

Gunnar, the shipyard manager, tells us there haven’t been ships built from scratch in the dock in a long time. It’s mainly repairs and paint work. Gunnar guided us around and inside the construction sight, warning us to take caution.

Right now the long-line ship Tjaldur is “on the ways” as they say, undergoing construction in the shipway. Gunnar says they’re in the final stages with Tjaldur, redoing the paint, and in a few days they’ll launch it back to sea.

Gunnar tells us “when we drag ships into the dockyard and back out again people, mostly tourists, gather around to watch and take pictures. It’s funny.” 

We were guided on board Tjaldur, climbing very steep and wobbly steps to get there. Ten meters high, inside the ship, we were greeted with a spectacular view over the city.

Gunnar tells us that even though there has been a great deal of technological development in fisheries, enabling mass production, not much has changed in his field of work. 

While “Slippurinn,” as us Icelanders call this downtown slipway, carries on in its good old role, the city all around seems to be changing. It’s nice to take a moment and look at the beauty of the original and industrial. 

When you visit us at ODDSSON, we recommend you stroll down to the harbour and have look at the lively surroundings. Perhaps you’ll bump into Gunnar!