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Reisgids voor The Commonwealth Farm

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Culturele bezienswaardigheden, Boerderij
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10:00 - 17:00
Afstand van het centrum
32.7 km

The Commonwealth Farm is a popular cultural attraction in South Iceland, with turf house recreations.The Commonwealth Farm is a beautiful re-creation of a turf farm on the edge of the Highlands in South Iceland, which was featured in the television series Game of Thrones.

TheCommonwealth Farm, or "Þjóðveldisbærinn" in Icelandic, is built near and inspired by the archaeological site of Stong, an 11th-century farm that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the nearby Mt. Hekla. This site was home to Gaukur Trandilsson, a character referenced in the medieval Icelandic Sagas.

The Commonwealth Farm is off the beaten track in the Thjorsardalur valley, so it is best explored by those on a self-drive tour focusing on South Iceland. For example, this slow-paced one-week summer road trip provides plenty of opportunities to visit the farm with a rental car.

It's just under a two-hour drive from Reykjavik. If you don't want to drive yourself, you can request a visit on a customizable private tour from Reykjavik.

The Commonwealth Farm is open for visits from June until September.

Photo above from Flickr, by Rita Willaert. No edits made.

About the Commonwealth Farm

The Commonwealth Farm was built in 1974 to celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of Ingólfur Arnarson, Iceland's first settler, establishing his home in Reykjavik. However, the attraction is based on Icelandic life around 900 years ago, when the original Stong farm was destroyed.

The interior of the Commonwealth Farm shows how medieval Icelanders once lived.

Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdottir. No edits made. The archeological remains of Stong farm.

The size, floorplan, and features of the Stong archaeological ruin were perfectly replicated, and it was decorated based on what we know of medieval Iceland from contemporary texts. 

As such, visitors to the farm can witness how the first settlers to this country cooked, socialized, worked, slept, and protected themselves from the elements. There is also a small church on site.

The buildings at the Commonwealth Farm are all recreated with traditional methods with stone and turf. This method of housebuilding allowed Icelanders to stay warm in the winter weather with the limited resources the landscape offers.

The Commonwealth Farm also offers hands-on activities. You can dress in medieval clothing, play cards in the hall, and practice weaving on the loom. These interactive features make the Commonwealth Farm a fun attraction for all ages.

The Commonwealth Farm Location and How to Get There

The Commonwealth Farm is located in Thjorsardalur valley, South Iceland, 77.7 miles (125 kilometers) east of Reykjavik. Take Route 49 east from the city, then turn right onto the Ring Road, Route 1. Follow this road through the village of Selfoss, and then turn left onto Route 30. 

Turn right onto Route 32, and you'll find the Commonwealth Farm signposted to the right.

This location places the Commonwealth Farm on the verge of the Highlands. The journey and destination both provide excellent views of this area's dramatic landscapes.

What Makes the Commonwealth Farm So Special?

The Commonwealth Farm has turf houses like those in Iceland's past.

Photo from Flickr, by nisibis350. No edits made.

Besides its dedication to historical accuracy, beautiful surroundings, and immersive experience, the Commonwealth Farm's most notable aspect is its history related to the archaeological ruins at Stong.

Stong farm was part of a larger settlement in Thjorsardalur valley in the 11th and 12th centuries. The greater area may have had between 400 and 600 people over 20 villages and farms, making it one of the country's most significant sites at the time.

Thjorsardalur valley's appeal came from its fertile ground, but unfortunately, this fertility came from the ash of the nearby Hekla volcano. It's one of the most explosive volcanos in Iceland, and its eruption in 1104 meant the valley had to be deserted.

Stong farm and the surrounding settlements would be covered in ash and lava for nearly 900 years until modern archaeologists uncovered it.

The Stong farm is recorded in history and folklore as the home of Gaukur Trandilsson, a wealthy warrior. Though sagas about his life are referenced in many other Icelandic tales, they have been lost in modern times, so his story is fragmented.

All that can be pieced together now is his involvement in a tragic love story. It was said that he had an affair with a married woman, Þuríður, who was the cousin of his foster brother, Ásgrímur. After this adultery was uncovered, Ásgrímur killed Gaukur, and Þuríður was later stoned to death.

The Commonwealth Farm and Game of Thrones

See how Vikings slept at the Commonwealth Farm.

Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdottir. No edits made.

Like many attractions in Iceland, the Commonwealth Farm is featured in Game of Thrones. In season four, episode three, the site represents a small northern village that the Wildlings brutally attack on their way to the Night's Watch at Castle Black. This makes the farm a must-visit location for those interested in Game of Thrones tours in Iceland.

What Else Can You Do Near the Commonwealth Farm?

The valley surrounding the Commonwealth Farm is beautiful

Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdottir. No edits made. The Thjorsardalur valley is a beautiful place for short hikes.

Part of the Commonwealth Farm's charm is the surrounding Thjorsardalur valley, the perfect place to enjoy tranquil nature during your visit. If you have an affordable rental car and book a summer self-drive trip, you can easily combine a visit with other destinations in the general region.

The Commonwealth Farm is en route to the Fjallabak nature reserve, a breathtaking place defined by lava landscapes, hot spring areas, and glaciers. They are 41.8 miles (67.2 kilometers) apart, though the route to the reserve should only be taken in summer as it's one of Iceland's F-Roads. You'll also need to rent a 4x4 vehicle to tackle the challenging road.

The Commonwealth Farm could also be visited as part of a Golden Circle exploration. The nearest attraction of this famous sightseeing route is the Geysir geothermal area, where you can find exploding hot springs 43.7 miles (70.3 kilometers) away. From there, you can continue to the other sites of the Golden Circle, the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park.

While this can be done as a long day trip, we recommend splitting this extended trip over two or more days and staying in Golden Circle accommodation.

Geysir and the Golden Circle are reasonably close to the Commonwealth Farm.If you return to the Ring Road from the Commonwealth Farm and turn left, you can start exploring the South Coast. The closest attraction to the farm, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, is 65.9 miles (106 kilometers) away, where you can walk behind the cascading water.

Continuing along the route, you can reach sites such as Skogafoss waterfallReynisfjara beach, and the Dyrholaey rock arch.

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