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Historical Sites in Reykjavik

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Iceland
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Videy Island
An island, where art, history and nature lie just beyond the city shore. The combination of stunning views, historical ruins and contemporary art pieces make Viðey island something special. Just a short boat-ride takes you to another world, to be explored in your own time. From nesting birds and panoramic views, to Yoko Ono's famous 'Imagine Peace Tower' and Richard Serra's 'Milestones', you'll discover an oasis of peace, beauty and history. Close to shore, but a world away.
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Skriduklaustur
Skriðuklaustur is an ancient manor estate in Fljótsdalur. From 1493 - 1552 a monastery operated there. In the years 2002 - 2012 an extensive archaeological excavation took place on the cloister ruins which are now open to visitors. The writer Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889 - 1975) bought Skriðklaustur in 1939 and built a large house there designed by the German architect Fritz Höger. The writer moved to Reykjavík in 1948 and donated Skriðuklaustur to the Icelandic nation. In 2000 the institute of Gunnar Gunnarsson resumed operation in Skriðuklaustur as a centre of culture and history. In the summertime, Skriðuklaustur comes alive with various exhibitions, cultural happenings and guided tours for visitors around the writer's house and the archaeological site.
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Beauly Priory Ruin
Located in the village of Beauly, the ruined church of a Valliscaulian priory, is one of three founded by the order in 1230. Part of the building was later rebuilt. It became a Cistercian home around 1510. The church was roofless in 1633, the stone is said to have been used by Cromwell to build a fort in Inverness in 1650.
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Wardlaw Mausoleum
Wardlaw Mausoleum is in Wardlaw Graveyard at the top of Wardlaw Road in Kirkhill, 8 miles west of Inverness. It was built in 1634 as the burial place for the Lovat Frasers on the end of the original parish church. The roof of the mausoleum was raised and a tower added in 1722 by the then Lord Lovat, the ‘Old Fox’ of the Jacobite Rebellion who was later buried in the crypt. It was used by the Lovats until the early 19th century. The building then fell into disrepair until the 1990’s when the Wardlaw Mausoleum Trust was formed to rescue it. This led to a restoration project with Historic Scotland and Lottery funding. The mausoleum is listed as Grade ‘A’ by Historic Scotland, the highest level of importance.
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Corrimony Chambered Cairn
Built some 4,000 years ago, Corrimony Cairn is a passage grave of the Clava type dating from the 3rd Millenium BC. Built by neolithic farmers, skilled in working stone, they were the first people to domesticate animals, till the land and clear the forests for farming, their society was cooperative.
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Hugh Miller Museum & Birthplace Cottage
Cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. Discover the story of one of Scotland’s most important 19th-century figures in this fascinating interactive museum. A fossil hunter, folklorist, Christian, stonemason, geologist, newspaper editor and social justice campaigner, Hugh Miller left a huge legacy of knowledge in his works.
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Fortrose Cathedral
Immediately to the south east of Fortrose's narrow High Street is the surprisingly spacious Cathedral Square, home to the red stone remains of Fortrose Cathedral. The site was chosen for a new Cathedral of Ross by Bishop Robert to replace the Church of St Peter in nearby Rosemarkie. This followed permission granted in 1236 by Pope Gregory IX, reaffirmed in the 1250s by Pope Alexander IV. The cathedral was probably finished by 1300 as a fairly simple structure some 185ft long and 25ft wide. The 1400s saw additions made in the form of a south aisle and chapel, plus a tower.
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Urquhart Castle
Discover more than 1,000 years of stirring history centred on the Great Glen. The magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, on the shore of Loch Ness, has seen some of the most dramatic chapters in our nation’s story
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Cultoon Stone Circle
A Standing Stone above Finlaggan. This structure and other standing stones on Islay probably pre-date the medieval ruins on the Council Isle by around two or three thousand years. Someone on Islay raised a question about whether any of Islay's standing stone groups have solar alignments, as can be read in an article about the Winter Solstice. I know of several sites on Islay which have been linked to various astronomical events. These include the stone circle at Cultoon, the standing stones at Ballinaby and the standing stone at Finlaggan.
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The Museum of Islay Life
The Islay Museums Trust was formed in 1976 by the Islay Historic Works Group and the Natural History and Antiquarian Society of Islay. A Management Committee was formed of Trustees resident on the island and other interested islanders. The Museum building, the former Free Church of Port Charlotte, was purchased for a nominal sum in the same year and work was started on converting what was a dilapidated ruin. The aims of the Museum: To hold in trust collections reflecting the history of the island of Islay, for the advancement of the education of the general public, and to maintain and enhance those collections. The Museum holds around 2,000 objects over a wide range of subject areas. The Museum has developed a policy for the display of the collection, allowing the rotation of existing items in and out of storage, as well as providing space for short term displays linked to a particular theme, for example, the shipwrecks, the wee museum of childhood and Islay House upstairs and downstairs.
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Leith Hall Garden and Estate
Your visit to Leith Hall will be by guided tour, giving a fascinating insight into the changing aspirations, needs and tastes of the Leith-Hay family over the centuries. The house itself is quirky and curious, reflected in the worldwide collections on show.
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Braemar Castle
A forbidding exterior conceals 12 authentic rooms charmingly furnished as though the family has just stepped out. Dig deeper and discover a turbulent past which echoes the story of Scotland over the past 400 years. Built in 1628 by the Earl of Mar as his Highland Hunting Lodge, set alight by the notorious Black Colonel in 1689, used as a garrison for Hanoverian soldiers after the rebel Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden and for the past 200 years, home to the Chiefs of Clan Farquharson. Now lovingly tended by the community of Braemar and gradually being restored to its full splendour.
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Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, having been first leased in 1848. The Castle is an example of Scots Baronial architecture and is classified by Historic Scotland as a category A listed building.
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Craigievar Castle
A fairy tale castle with guided tours telling the history of the castle and the families who lived here.
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Slains Castle
On the coast of Cruden Bay lie the remains of Slains Castle. The original castle has been reconstructed may times since its construction in 1597 by the Earl of Erroll. The ruin you see today is the inevitable result of the castle’s location and various misfortunes becoming the owners over time. The owners, the Earls of Errol, were an influential family in the Cruden Bay area for many years and prospered after William Hay (the 18th Earl of Errol) married the daughter of King William IV. Overtime the Hays fell upon hard times and in 1919 the castle and contents were sold to Sir John Ellerman. He gave up the castle in 1925 and the roof was removed to avoid paying taxes.
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Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle is a dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress that was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Steeped in history, this romantic and haunting ruin is a photographer’s paradise, a history lover’s dream and an iconic tourist destination for visitors the world over
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Discovery Walk
Discovery Walk is a series of plaques honouring the achievements of scientists, innovators and social reformers of the past who either came from or had a strong connection to Dundee. The plaques are set into the pavements around Mary Slessor Gardens at the heart of Dundee's £1 billion Waterfront Redevelopment. There are currently nine plaques commemorating scientists, engineers, writers, artists, social reformers and philanthropists, plus a tenth plaque introducing the Walk. A crowdfunding campaign was launched in late 2016 to fund the addition of five further plaques.
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Arbroath Abbey
Arbroath Abbey is famously associated with the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, which asserted Scotland's independence from England.Parts of the abbey church and domestic buildings remain, notably the gatehouse range and the abbot's house.
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Lauriston Castle
With its calm, tranquil atmosphere, and stunning views across the Firth of Forth, Lauriston is the perfect place to escape from the bustle of the city centre. Enjoy a woodland walk, a visit to award-winning Japanese garden, or step back in time and experience what life was like in an Edinburgh middle-class home at the beginning of the 20th century.
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Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is one of the most exciting historic sites in Western Europe, Set in the heart of Scotland's dynamic capital city it is sure to capture your imagination. The scenery will take your breath away.
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Royal Mile
Edinburgh's Royal Mile is the heart of Scotland's historic capital. A short walk away is the Grassmarket, an area steeped in the city's colourful history. The Royal Mile runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, connecting the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, perched high on a base of volcanic rock, with the splendorous Palace of Holyroodhouse, resting in the shadow of Arthur's Seat. The Mile is overlooked by impressive, towering tenements, between which cobbled closes and narrow stairways interlock to create a secret underground world. Peppered with superb attractions such as The Real Mary King’s Close or the Scottish Storytelling Centre, historical sites including St Giles' Cathedral and some of the best eating and drinking spots in the city, the Royal Mile offers much to see and do. For a glimpse of recent history, be sure to visit the ultra-modern Scottish Parliament, a striking building boasting a cutting-edge design.
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Craigmillar Castle
The castle of Craigmillar is one of the most perfectly preserved castles in Scotland. Even today, the castle retains the character of a medieval stronghold. Building began in the early 15th century, and over the next 250 years the castle became a comfortable residence surrounded by fine gardens and pastureland. The castles history is not only closely involved with the city of Edinburgh, but plays an important part in the story of Mary Queen of Scots who fled to Craigmillar Castle following the murder of Rizzio. It was in the castle where the plot was hatched to murder Marys husband, Lord Darnley.
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Scrabo Tower
At the top of Scrabo Hill, overlooking Strangford Lough and the whole of North Down, is Scrabo Tower. The tower, which was built in 1857, is one of Northern Ireland’s best known landmarks and the views from the top are spectacular.
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Movilla Abbey
As with many early monasteries, it was refounded as an Augustinian abbey in the Norman 12th century. It possesses the best collection of 13th Century coffin lids with foliate lids, in the Province.
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Kirklinton Hall & Gardens
Take a 17th Century ruin, add 14 acres of gardens and grounds, blend with a sense of history, mix in a large dollop of irreverence; add a generous pinch of fairy dust, and stir. That is the recipe for Kirklinton Hall & Gardens. Also in this stunning garden is an orchard, nuttery, quince grove, bog garden, duck pond and palace, pigs, a yurt, a gypsy caravan and a campsite. A scented rose maze and rose terraces surround the Great Hall. We also have a children's garden with sandpit, playhouse and a Kids Sunflower Bed.
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Carlisle Castle
Carlisle has over 2000 years of history. Celts, Romans, feuding Border Reivers and invading armies have all left an intriguing legacy for you to explore.
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Lanercost Priory
The beautiful and now tranquil setting of Augustinian Lanercost Priory belies an often troubled history. Standing close to Hadrian's Wall, it suffered frequent attacks during the long Anglo-Scottish wars, once by Robert Bruce in person. The mortally sick King Edward I rested here for five months in 1306-7, shortly before his death on his final campaign. Yet there is still much to see in this best-preserved of Cumbrian monasteries. The east end of the noble 13th-century church survives to its full height, housing within its dramatic triple tier of arches some fine monuments.
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Birdoswald Roman Fort
Admire the ruins of this impressive fort where over 800 Roman soldiers lived. This wildlife haven is also a popular stopping point for walkers and cyclists on the Hadrian's Wall National Trail. You can rest your weary legs in the cosy tearoom where you will receive a warm Cumbrian welcome and the chance to learn about Roman life.
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Hadrian's Wall
For around three centuries, Hadrian’s Wall was a vibrant, multi-cultured frontier sprawling almost 80 miles coast-to-coast. Built by a force of 15,000 men in under six years, it’s as astounding today for its sheer vision as it is for its engineering. Milecastles, barracks, ramparts and forts punctuate a diverse landscape that provides a dramatic backdrop. Explore bath houses, turrets and shrines, visit galleries and museums and watch live excavations uncover fresh details of ancient Roman Britain before your eyes. However you discover it, Hadrian’s Wall is a unique, must-see monument and a remarkable place to experience.
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Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin. It closed its doors in 1924. Today the building symbolises the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848,1867 and 1916 were detained and in some cases executed here. Many members of the Irish Republican movement during the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were also detained in Kilmainham Gaol, guarded by British troops. Names such as Henry Joy McCracken, Robert Emmet, Anne Devlin, Charles Stewart Parnell and the leaders of 1916 will always be associated with the building. It should not be forgotten however that, as a county gaol, Kilmainham held thousands of ordinary men, women and children. Their crimes ranged from petty offences such as stealing food to more serious crimes such as murder or rape. Convicts from many parts of Ireland were held here for long periods waiting to be transported to Australia. Kilmainham Gaol Museum is operated and managed by the Office of Public Works.
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Bodowyr Burial Chamber
Standing on a hillock backed by panoramic views of Snowdonia, Bodowyr is a striking landmark. The massive, mushroom-shaped capstone was originally supported by four tall standing stones, one of which fell at some point over the last few millennia. A fifth, shorter stone is believed to mark what was once the tomb’s entrance. Originally covered in earth and built in Neolithic (New Stone Age) times it is most likely a passage grave used for communal burial. However, the site has never been excavated so exactly who or what is buried here remains a mystery.
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Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Chamber
One of Anglesey’s most famous prehistoric landmarks, Bryn Celli Ddu (the ‘Mound in the Dark Grove’ in English) is actually two sites in one. In the early Neolithic (New Stone Age) period, a henge (bank and ditch) enclosing a circle of stones was built here, to be replaced later by a chambered tomb beneath a mound measuring up to 85ft/26m in diameter. Inside, a long, narrow passage leads to an octagonal chamber 8ft/2.4m across, where artefacts such as human bones, arrowheads and carved stones have been found. But Bryn Celli Ddu’s most unusual feature can only be seen once a year. As the sun rises on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) shafts of light shine directly down the tomb’s passageway to illuminate the chamber within.
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Castell Bryn Gwyn
Though all that remains of this Neolithic (New Stone Age) settlement is a single bank, excavations have revealed a site with a particularly long history. Its origins stretch back to a circular enclosure featuring a bank and external ditch built in the late Neolithic era or early Bronze Age. Originally thought to be a ceremonial henge monument, finds of pottery, post holes and flint and bronze tools are in fact those of a settlement. The locals must have liked the place. Castell Bryn Gwyn was used far beyond the Neolithic period, with archaeological finds suggesting it was still inhabited as late as 1st-century Roman times.
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Caer Leb
This rectilinear enclosure of double banks and ditches has a complex and sometimes murky history. Its location on low-lying marshland led some to believe that it may once have been a medieval moated homestead, while excavations have uncovered medieval coins and Roman artefacts dating from the 3rd century. However, it seems that these items were left by the settlement’s later occupants rather than its original builders, with investigations of similar sites elsewhere in Wales suggesting that Caer Lêb has Iron Age origins.
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