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South side of the fjord Hvalfjörður

South side of the fjord Hvalfjörður

Waters Faxaflói
Land mass Iceland
Geographical location 64 ° 23 ′  N , 21 ° 40 ′  W Coordinates: 64 ° 23 ′  N , 21 ° 40 ′  W
Hvalfjörður (Iceland)
width 5 km
length 30 km
Greatest water depth 84 m
Tributaries Botnsá , Laxá í Kjós
Hvalfjördur in winter, view over Botnsvogur to Mount Þyrill

Hvalfjördur in winter, view over Botnsvogur to Mount Þyrill

The Hvalfjörður ( isl. For Whale fjord ) is a fjord in the west of Iceland between Kjalarnes and Akranes .

Location and landscape

The fjord is de facto an extension of Faxaflói Bay to the east. It is 30 km long and at its widest point it measures 4–5 km.

It is deepest in the interior and reaches a depth of 84 m, while it is only approx. 38 m deep at the fjord exit.

Two bays in particular branch off from it in the interior of the fjord: Botnsvogur and Brynjudalsvogur .

In the interior of the valley, the fjord is surrounded by steep mountains, which adds to the charm of the landscape. This is in Múlafell and Þyrill the remains of an extinct shield volcano . Hvalfell is a tabular volcano . In the interior of the fjord there was an active central volcano in the Tertiary , so hot springs and rhyolite rock can be found on the slopes of the north side of the fjord on Mount Brekkukambur above the whaling station .



In the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era, the fjord was of great importance for southern and western Iceland, both as a trading center and as a fishing center.

In the 14th century z. For example, the probably most important trading center in Iceland, Maríuhöfn , was on the south bank of the fjord near Kjós . Numerous remains have been archaeologically examined. This heyday obviously lasted until the 15th century, when the trading center was finally replaced by Hafnarfjörður .

This may also have had something to do with the fact that in 1402 the plague was brought into the country on a ship via Maríuhöfn.

Another well-known trading center was in the interior of the fjord at the mouth of the river Laxá í Kjós : Hvalfjarðareyri . This trading center existed in the second half of the 17th century.

20th and 21st centuries

Saurbær à Hvalfjarðarströnd

There is no larger settlement in the area of ​​the fjord, but there are some homesteads as well as weekend houses and factory settlements.

Saurbær à Hvalfjarðarströnd church and parish

This parish became famous in the 17th century, when the psalmist and pastor Hallgrímur Pétursson , who is still very popular today, lived and died here.

The current church from 1957 is decorated with windows by the artist Gerður Helgadóttir .

Whaling station

In the interior of Hvalfjörður, Iceland's most important whaling station was operated on its north side until the 1980s . The whales were processed here on land. The Trantanks are still in use today. In addition, in 2008, whales were hunted again in limited numbers, supposedly for research purposes, which are landed and dismantled here.

Grundartangi industrial complex

At Grundartangi there is a Norðurál aluminum plant and a ferrosilicon plant.

Allied naval bases

British Navy ship in Hvalfjörður during World War II

Hvalfjörður is the deepest fjord in Iceland. It was therefore particularly suitable for large ships such as whalers or warships. For this reason, during the Second World War, the Allies put together the northern sea convoys in the fjord , which drove from here towards the Soviet Union .

The remains of the British naval base can be seen on the south side of the fjord, those of the Americans on the north side not far from the whaling station. The oil tanks still located there are used by NATO .



Translated, the name means Walfjord (isl. Hvalur = whale).

There is an Icelandic folk tale that explains the name: A few kilometers beyond the end of the fjord is Hvalvatn . A priest who knows magic has lured a vicious whale into this lake and hence the name of the fjord. The Glymur waterfall (from Hall ) takes its name back to the same event. The whale made terrible noises when climbing into the lake over the waterfall.

The story also has an alternate ending, in which the vicious whale was stranded in the back of the fjord because of the priest's sorcery. The whale became a peninsula.


Tunnel under the fjord

Until 1998 , travelers had to make a detour of around 62 kilometers on the ring road R1 if they wanted to drive from Reykjavík to Borgarnes . Back then you had to go around the whole fjord . This stretch of road became Hvalfjarðarvegur S47 .

Nowadays the journey through the Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel under the fjord is significantly shortened. The tunnel was developed and built by Icelandic companies. It has two lanes and goes down to a depth of 165 m, so it is about 130 m below the sea floor.

The fjord is only 38 m deep at its mouth, but up to 84 m deep inside. This is explained by the fact that the Ice Age glaciers, which rested over the area until 10,000 years ago, were naturally heavier and thicker towards the inland and also rested there longer, so they had a much greater erosive force in the interior of fjords.

natural beauties

Botnsdalur in winter with the Hvalfell tabular volcano in the background

The travelers who drive through the tunnel miss an exceptionally beautiful and (in summer) lovely piece of Iceland, which consists of a delightful mixture of volcanic mountains and green vegetation. The road around the fjord will of course still be maintained.

View into Botnsdalur and Botnssúlur from Hvalfjörður

Hiking opportunities

The yrill , the remnant of an old shield volcano , on the Brekkukambur and for mountaineers the peaks of the Botnssúlur are ideal hiking destinations . The hike to Iceland's second highest waterfall, the Glymur , which starts at the far end of the fjord near the mouth of the Botnsá river , is also extremely interesting (see also the list of waterfalls in Iceland ). An old path also leads over the mountains from Botnsá to Skorradalur , another to Þingvellir .

Flora and fauna

Lupins , which were introduced into Iceland in 1945 and are used in the fight against erosion because of their frugality and their long roots, as well as numerous other flowers and flowering mosses grow on the Botnsá . In the meantime, beginnings of forests with conifers between the birches have also been discovered . A good example of the successful planting of arctic conifers (mostly from Siberia ) in Iceland (see Iceland main article, flora and fauna).

The fjord has always been known for its abundance of fish (see name). The winter of 1947-48 is legendary with the enormous quantities of herring that were caught in the fjord at the time.

See also

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. Íslandshandbókin. 1. bindi. 1989, p. 80
  2. Thor Thordarsson, Armann Hoskuldsson: Iceland. Classic Geology in Europe 3. Harpenden 2002, p. 50
  3. Íslandshandbókin, ibid., P. 86
  4. Íslandshandbókin, ibid.
  5. HUSchmid: English-Icelandic German. Hamburg (Buske) 2001, 114
  6. Íslandshandbókin, ibid., P. 80 f.
  7. Íslandshandbókin, ibid.