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Aerial view of Heimaey
Aerial view of Heimaey
Waters Atlantic Ocean
Archipelago Vestmannaeyjar
Geographical location 63 ° 26 ′ 31 ″  N , 20 ° 15 ′ 0 ″  W Coordinates: 63 ° 26 ′ 31 ″  N , 20 ° 15 ′ 0 ″  W
Heimaey (Iceland)
surface 13.4 km²
Highest elevation Heimaklettur
283  m
Residents 4300
321 inhabitants / km²
main place Heimaey
Map with eruption diagram
Map with eruption diagram

The island of Heimaey [ ˈhɛi̯maɛi̯ ] belongs to the Vestmannaeyjar ( Westman Islands ) south of Iceland . On it is the city of the same name with 4301 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2019).

Heimaey lives mainly from fishing and is one of the richest cities in Iceland.


At 13.4 km², Heimaey is the largest and the only permanently inhabited island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago.

At the same time, it is the island that has had the highest number of volcanic eruptions known in this archipelago and under which there is probably a magma chamber.


1973 volcanic eruption

At the end of January 1973, a new volcano, the Eldfell , erupted in the immediate vicinity of the city. Fortunately, due to a storm the day before, the island's entire fishing fleet was in port, so the island could be evacuated quickly and nobody was harmed. Over the course of the next few months, the remaining helpers fought for the town on Heimaey.

About 100 buildings were covered with leaking lava. Large parts of the village were buried up to 8 m under black ash. Most of the buildings were excavated again in the months that followed with the help of many residents and volunteers. Part of the lava flow was flowing in the direction of the harbor entrance and threatened to block it, which would have been a major problem for the fishing-based livelihood of the people. Water cannons were set up and the lava flow was sprayed with sea water to make it stop. In fact, the lava flow stopped, so that the port entrance is now narrower, but at the same time the port is better protected from the surf.

The American author Joseph Hayes was an interviewer and observer in Vestmannaeyjar during the critical days after the volcanic eruption and the fight against its consequences. He processed his information about the eventful history of the island in his 1979 book "Island on Fire", which was also published in Germany in the same year with the title "Insel auf dem Vulkan". The means employed in this struggle are truthfully described in this book; however, the characters in the novel are fictitious, as the author writes in the preface.

The Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir wrote the novel Aska (Eng .: "The glowing grave", 2008), published in 2007 , in which the volcanic eruption plays a major role.

Culture and sights

Helgafell, Eldfell and the volcanic fissure
Houses with a grass roof on Heimaey
Buried house as a memorial

Folk festival in Herjólfsdalur

On the first weekend in August, the so-called Verslunarmannahelgi , a three-day festival is celebrated in Herjólfsdalur, a crescent-shaped former volcanic crater open to the sea, to which many - especially young - guests from the "mainland" come. The folk festival has a long tradition; it has existed since 1874 and was only suspended in the first years of World War I (1914 and 1915).

Interesting buildings on Heimaey

The small fortress Skansinn near the harbor goes back to instructions from the Danish king in 1515, who wanted to protect his trading area from the English with the help of the system. Within this fortified area is Heimaey Stave Church , a gift from Norway to Iceland in 2000.

The Landakirkja was originally built in 1573. It was burned down during the Turkish attack in 1627. The current church was built of stone from 1774 and has since been renovated several times. It is the third oldest stone church in Iceland after Viðeyjarkirkja and Hóladómkirkja .

Pompei norðursins or Eldheimar is a museum that commemorates the Eldfell eruption on January 23, 1973. For this purpose, houses buried by volcanic ash were also dug up again on the island.

Hiking opportunities

There are numerous smaller mountains on the islands; so you can z. B. climb the volcanoes Helgafell and Eldfell on Heimaey .


The Vestmannaeyjar can be reached to Vestmannaeyjar Airport by air from the domestic airport in Reykjavík or from Bakki, southeast of Hvolsvöllur. Since summer 2010 there has been a ferry from the new Landeyjahöfn harbor near Hvolsvöllur . The crossing with the ferry Herjólfur III (until 2019) or the new Herjólfur (from summer 2019) is usually carried out five times a day and takes about half an hour. However, this depends very much on the weather conditions.

See also

Web links

Commons : Heimaey  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Guðjón Eyjólfsson: Vestmannaeyjar. Ferðafélag Íslands, árbók 2009, p. 162 ff.
  2. ^ Joseph Hayes: Island on Fire Grosset & Dunlap 1979, ISBN 978-0448-1160-75 .
  3. cf. Guðjón Eyjólfsson: Vestmannaeyjar. Ferðafélag Íslands, árbók 2009, p. 156ff.
  4. ^ Guðjón Eyjólfsson: Vestmannaeyjar. Ferðafélag Íslands, árbók 2009, p. 135.
  5. ^ Guðjón Eyjólfsson: Vestmannaeyjar. Ferðafélag Íslands, árbók 2009, p. 66.
  6. cf. Guðjón Eyjólfsson: Vestmannaeyjar. Ferðafélag Íslands, árbók 2009, p. 139.
  7. Pompei Norðursins. Archived from the original on 20060208 (Icelandic).;
  8. cf. Hiking map (easier hiking trails marked in red, more demanding trails in blue): Archive link ( Memento from July 18, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF) Access: February 13, 2011.
  9. cf. http://www.mbl.is/myndasafn/mynd/238041/ Accessed February 13, 2011.
  10. Sigling.is (Icelandic Maritime Office): Siglingastofnun