Travel Photography


THE ESTATE and PARSONAGE
PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE BESSASTADIR

The presidential residence and the church date back to the early 19th century and are situated in the open landscape at Bessastadir, on the peninsula Alftanes, just south of the capital.

The first recorded information on Bessastadir dates back to the turn of the 12th century, when the farm was the property of the renowned chieftain and author Snorri Sturluson. After his murder in 1241 the property was seized by the Norwegian king, becoming the first such to fall into the hands of the kings.

~~Click once on image for a larger view, click a 2nd time to enlarge a bit more~~

View of Bessastadir with the Capital City of Reykjavik and Hallgrímskirkja, Icelands largest chruch, in the background. ©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

In 1841, The Bessastadir School came into possession of Bessastadir. The church became a county church in 1867 and remained as such until 1941.

In 1941 a Reykjavik businessman, Sigurdur Jonsson, purchased the property and donated it on the condition that is would become, and remain, the residence of the Icelandic president. It remained the residence of the governor until 1944, when Iceland gained independence from Denmark in 1944 and the first president was elected by parliament.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Bessastadir has been a site of a church since the year 1000 and the first documented sources mention a church there in the year 1200. It took about 20 years to finish the construction of the present church, which was consecrated in 1796 and restored in 1998. It is one of the oldest buildings made of cemented stone in the country. The stones are from the Gallow Lava field east of Bessastadir and were transported to the property on open boats. The church was decorated with its stained windows in 1956 to commemorate the 60th birthday of the second president of the country, Asgeir Asgeirsson.

Icelands president is Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who is the fifth President of Iceland and has served as President since 1996; he is the longest-serving left-wing president in the history of Iceland.He married Guðrún Katrín Þorbergsdóttir in 1974. Þorbergsdóttir, much loved by the Icelandic people, died from leukemia in 1998; she was laid to rest in the cemetery beside the church on the Presidential grounds.President Grímssons second marriage was to Israeli-born Dorrit Moussaieff . They were married in a private ceremony held at the Presidential residence.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Icelands flag become the national flag when Iceland gained independence from Denmark in 1944. The flag’s colouring represents the colours that stand for 3 of the elements that make up the island; red is the fire produced by the island’s volcanoes, white recalls the ice and snow that covers Iceland, and blue for the Atlantic Ocean.

This is the Presidential flag that was flying at the Presidential residence. The Icelandic presidency uses a swallowtailed Icelandic flag with the Coat of arms; it is used on the all dwellings of the President as well as any Presidential vehicles. ©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Ragga, her son Brynjar Leó, and I went out to the Presidents residence one afternoon. What surprised me most was that we could just drive right up to it … well, not right up to the front door, but we did park by the beautiful church and then just walked the grounds. I didn’t notice any signage; though Ragga mention that it was discouraged to walk over the brick road between the church and residence. Still, it blew me away that other than the brick road restriction, we were free to walk the grounds. How free?? … well, here’s a picture of Brynjar Leó posing in the tree grove on the grounds.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

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It was a bit of a trek, but we made our way to the swimming pool close to where Eyjafjallajökull erupted on April 3rd, 2010.

What struck me most during the walk was the greyish-black landscape. There was inches of lava dust on the ground with ever resilient plant life pushing themselves through the dust. At times during the walk I was awestruck by the sheer magnetude of the devistation of the eruption; but amazed at how quickly the plant live was rebounding.

~~Double click on Images for larger view~~

Walking to the pool … notice the mountain in the background fully covered in lava dust.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Water from the glacier above is collected here….

[when you double click on this, you can see the just how much lava dust is sitting on the pipes & ground]

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

…and runs through pipes into the pool

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

The Pool

To see what this area looked like before the eruption, go to

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Not at all daunted by the signage that declared the pool closed, the boys changed into their swimsuits and went for a dip.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Walking back

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Bird tracks in the lava dust

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

I love birds … big birds, small birds, fat birds, tall birds. I used to have a bird zoo – 7 large parrots, peacocks, ginnie fowl, chickens, ducks. I even used to have a boss whose last name was Bird .

So when Ragga took me into town for the day and we saw an older man with a young boy feeding the seagulls, we stopped and took some pictures.

~~~Click on Images for large view~~~

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

We drove through the Highlands of Iceland where the beautiful Mt. Herdubreid is located. It’s on the Oskjuleið Route is a 1682m high table mountain.

It is the national mountain of Iceland and often called the “Queen of Icelandic mountains” — it is beautiful and majestic…

These are the views of the “Queen” and its surrounding area, as well as an image of Egill Ar building a structure with rocks.

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~~Double click for even larger view~~

Queen of the Islandic Mountains pinned on map

© 2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

So … we are in the middle of nowhere … well, nowhere by my standards. Ragga slowly begins to pull over to the side of the road; I’m figuring there must be another excellent natural landscape ahead that she’d like me to see, and then I began to feel the car bumping along. A flat tire??…really??

Now, for those who know me, know that my ‘automobile’ education includes only that the gas station attendant checks the oil and tire pressure, and the garage down the road takes care of the rest. To say I’m a total dud when it comes to cars would be an understatement. I asked about BCAA [or rather, the Icelandic version] and Ragga just looked at me like I was from another planet — she rolled up her sleeves and grabbed the spare from the trunk.

We were seriously ‘out there’ and not many cars were passing by – all I could to help was give Ragga words of encouragement. After a lot of trying to get the jack to lift the car, she finally asked me for help — albeit only to let her know when a car was approaching so she could stop it and perhaps get some assistance.

She flagged down a couple from Belgium and the husband changed the tire. Egill Ar appeared to want to help, while Brynjar Leó and I felt it would be most useful if we just didn’t get in the way.

Ragga called her husband in Reykjavik who found a tire repair store in the next town where the owner would come down and open the shop and put on a new tire. The incredible part was that it was late Sunday afternoon – Iceland and Icelandic people just continued to amaze me with their hospitality and generosity.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography