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Bessastadir County

Region: Reykjavik Area
Coordinates: 64.1058787° N 21.995998° W

This county is on the peninsula Alftanes just south of the capital. The presidential residence’s houses date back to the early 19th century. It and the late 18th century church are beautifully situated in the open landscape at Bessastadir. The church is open for guests and is well worth visiting, bearing in mind not to cross the small square between it and the residence.

On and around the lagoons is one of the many birdwatchers’ paradises of the country. The human settlement has been expanding rapidly during the last few decades.

The first recorded information on Bessastadir dates back to the turn of the 12th century, when the farm was the Sagas of Icelandproperty of the renowned chieftain and historian Snorri Sturluson. After his murder in 1241 the property was seized by the Norwegian king, thus becoming the first such to fall into the hands of the kings. Soon after that Bessastadir became the seat of the governors of the country and their mansions stood there until the end of the 18th century. Early in the 20th century a director in the capital bought the property and donated it to the state in 1941 on the condition that it would become and remain the seat of the Icelandic presidents. It remained the seat of the governor until 1944, when the first president was elected by the parliament. Ever since the year 1000 there have been churches at Bessastadir. The present one was consecrated in 1796 and last renovated in 1998. It is among the oldest houses made of stone in the country.

Bessastadir in Icelandic

Main Photo Credit: OddurBen

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