Thursday, 14 August 2008

Saga Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland - bloodthirsty Viking history

Iceland has a thoroughly odd history. Much of it is known through sagas, which are longwinded and often exaggerated stories passed down through the generations.
It is mostly from these sagas that we know how Iceland was settled by Scandinavians running away from persecution in their homeland, that the country formed the world’s oldest parliament and that its people all elected to convert to Christianity simultaneously on one day.
This unique form of record-keeping is celebrated in one of Reykjavik’s best museums. The Saga Museum is in a strange building – the Perlan has been made out of huge water tanks, and stands on a hill above the city skyline.
Inside, it is crammed full of waxworks, all of which have been modelled on Reykjavik residents who volunteered to be immortalised as characters from the sagas.
Icelandic history is covered in a reasonable depth – enough to be interesting, and not enough to bore the pants off someone with only a passing interest.
More importantly, it’s all blood and guts. Models have been whacked with axes and riddled with the black death, while just about every character seems up for a fight.
Freakiest of the lot is the scary-eyed woman who is holding a sword to her bare breast, threatening to cut it off.

Getting to the Saga Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland
Nearest international airport: The Saga Museum is very near Reykjavik airport, but that’s only really used for domestic flights. All the major international carriers fly to Keflavik International Airport, around 45 minutes away by bus transfer or taxi.
Using public transport: Perlan and the Saga Museum are walkable from the main street, but it’s probably easier to take bus number 18 from Laekjartorg.

More information: Saga Museum

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