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Grundarfjörður is a small town found on the north coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the west of Iceland. It has an approximate population of 872 people and has been twinned with the French town Paimpol since 2004.
The town’s main industries lie in fishing and fish processing. Grundarfjörður also bears host to substantial ship traffic, a consequence of’ the settlement’s natural harbour.
More recently, it has become a centre for tourism, due to the incredible beauty of the features on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It is developing to meet the needs of those who travel through it.
Grundarfjörður boasts a public library, a historical centre, a resident’s café and a photography exhibition, Bæringsstofa, which is a collection of pictures by the late Icelandic photographer and honorary citizen of Grundarfjörður, Bærings Cecilsson.
Asides from accommodation and amenities, Grundarfjörður offers the opportunity to partake in numerous outdoor activities, ranging from horseback riding and camping to ice-climbing.
One can also find a nine-hole golf course beside the town.
Visitors to Grundarfjörður will likely visit the town’s main landmark, the photogenic Kirkjufell, which translates to ‘Church Mountain’. Clearly distinguishable, and standing alone on the edge of the sea, its dramatic slopes, steeple-like peak and surrounding shorelines make it one of the country’s most beautiful summits.
Kirkjufell is often called the most photographed mountain in Iceland, due to the variety of different way you can shoot it, and how starkly different it appears under different lights.
Besides the mountain itself, one can find Kirkjufellsfoss (Church Mountain Falls), a beautiful three-pronged waterfall, which is often favoured as a foreground.
Rock climbing is possible up Kirkjufell, but only for the very experienced as there have been accidents before.
Folklore & History
Nearby, one can find the town and municipality of Stykkishólmur, which has a population of 1,195, and is a centre of commerce and services for the region. The town, more than any other in the region, is considered mystical, with many folk stories and Sagas referencing it.
The road from Grundarfjörður to Stykkishólmur crosses a wide lava field known as Berserkjahraun. The name of this lava field is derived from the Eyrbyggja saga, in which it said two berserkers (Viking Warriors) were slaughtered by their master because one of them fell madly in love with own daughter.
It was said that the master had then pave the road across it before killing them.
Grundarfjörður is an important historical town in Iceland, having been a centre of trade for the Snæfellsnes Peninsula since at least the 15th century. The town was certified official as one the country’s six designated marketplaces in the year 1786.
There are a number of antiquity sites around the town, however, that point to the region being well-inhabited as far back as the Viking era.
Like many places on the peninsula, it is likely that it could have been one of the first inhabited places in the country, due to its harbour and the wealth of fish that live just off its shores.