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Established in 1909, Skrudur, spelled Skrúður in Icelandic, is the oldest botanical garden in Iceland. It was built by Rev. Sigtryggur Gudlaugsson, a teacher and Protestant pastor living in Nupur, a boarding school in the Westfjords.

Like the Akureyri botanical gardensPetra’s Stone Museum, and the Hljomskalagardurinn park, Skrudur boasts an extensive collection of plants, flowers, and trees. The garden also attracts visitors looking for a peaceful and refreshing atmosphere.

It can be visited by those on self-drive packages that visit the Westfjords, such as on this eight-day summer holiday.

At first, the Skrudur Botanical Garden served as a teaching garden in Thingeyri, in the Westfjords region and near the Arctic Circle. Gudlaugsson planned to build a garden to teach his students how to cultivate the land and care for the plants. He also wanted them to learn to recognize and identify various plants.

The attraction is only open in summer.

Natural Beauty of the Skrudur Botanical Garden

Upon reaching Skrudur Botanical Garden, you’ll be welcomed by a green gate and an arch with “Skrudur” written on the left side and “1909” on the right. Another interesting element that’ll welcome you is a pair of arched whale jaw bones with the flag of Iceland at the top. You’ll have to pass through this arch to enter the actual garden.

An image of the arched whale jaw bones in Skrudur Botanical Garden.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons, by Reykholt. No edits made.

Stepping inside, you’ll see gravel paths and an extensive lineup of fruit trees and colorful flowerbeds. Walk a little further, and you’ll see a small greenhouse made of glass. Despite its size, the greenhouse captures enough sunlight to grow plants.

One of the most captivating sights in Skrudur is the flower garden. You’ll see beautiful blue flowers standing and lining up alongside red and purple ones.

Where is the Skudur Botanical Garden Located?

The Skrudur Botanical Garden is located in Westfjords. It is near the village of Thingeyri and the Nupskirkja church, and 22.4 miles (36.1 kilometers) from Isafjordur, the region's largest town. 

Getting to the Skrudur Botanical Garden is possible if you’re coming from Reykjavik. The garden is about 245 miles (395 kilometers) from Iceland’s capital, roughly a five to six-hour drive.

What Makes the Skrudur Botanical Garden Special?

The Skrudur Botanical Garden is unique and special in many ways, particularly its history and humble beginnings. The Skrudur garden started when Gudlaugsson and his students picked a spot on a barren Icelandic landscape and built an enclosure to house various plants.

They removed the stones from the location and dug into the ground. They used these diggings to plant trees, many of which still stand today. Though the botanical garden’s vegetation grew through the 1980s, the attention it received eventually waned by the turn of the decade.

However, in 1992, a group of people decided to take over and restore the garden. By 1996, Skrudur would formally re-open. It still maintained the same vision its founder once had, but the garden would have a deeper meaning and purpose this time: it now served as a memorial.

Also notable is the garden’s location. It stands in a little stone wall along the slopes of a steep incline. Situated in a barren landscape, Skrudur stands out as a small green patch that quickly catches the interest of passersby. In addition, you have the glacier-eroded mountains serving as a backdrop.

Another part of the appeal is Skrudur’s significance in Iceland’s horticulture history. As a flourishing botanical garden, it reflects the success of the country’s efforts in cultivating and managing greeneries amid Iceland’s cool maritime climate.

Growing plants in the country can be challenging. Finding suitable garden plants that’ll grow and thrive in the country is hard. Despite the unforgiving climate in Iceland, Skrudur proves that growing a garden is doable.

Lastly, Skrudur is an award-winning botanical garden. It won the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens in 2013, given by the Benetton Foundation for its natural, historical, and creative values.

Nearby Attractions to Visit

After visiting Skrudur, consider checking out the different nearby attractions. There's Dyrafjordur, one of the fjords that make up the Westfjords. It's also home to the Haukadalur valley, the main site of the historic Icelandic Gisla Saga.

There's also the Jon Sigurdsson Museum, located in Arnarfjordur fjord about 26 miles (41 kilometers) away. This is a historical exhibition of the life of Jon Sigurdsson, a man considered Iceland’s champion of the nationalist cause.

Dynjandi waterfall and the Latrabjarg birdwatching cliffs are other must-see attractions in the Westfjords region.

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