Monday, 27 February 2017

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

Fáskrúðsfjörður sometimes known as Búðir is a small town with around 700 inhabitants in the East of Iceland, whose history greatly links to France.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

The emblem of the town is a boat called Rex. Rex, you can easily see when you arrive at the town; at the west of the village, near the sports field. Einar Sigurðsson built this magnificent vessel; you can see a monument dedicated to him on the hill above Rex. Kolfreyjustaður is the locality of a small church built in 1878. The tale goes that the giant Kolfreyja lived nearby, and she would frighten parish priests whenever the opportunity arose. To the east of Fáskrúðsfjörður, several waterfalls are hidden along the roadside; the most popular is undoubtedly Gilsárfoss because you can walk behind the fall. The walk along the river Gilsa takes about a quarter of an hour. South Fjord of Fáskrúðsfjörður is the hamlet of Hafnarnes, a small village of fishermen settled there in the early twentieth century. In the sixties, many fishermen left the fishing scene, and the hamlet was found abandoned in seventies.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

The French Project focuses on preserving the heritage of the French fishermen and sailors who were an important part of the Fáskrúðsfjörður community in the 19th century. The project was set up to restore, among others things, five of the buildings constructed at the time by the French: the hospital, the doctor's house, the hospital, the mortuary and chapel. All buildings, except for the doctor's house, have been moved or rebuilt. The French hospital at Fáskrúðsfjörður, built in 1903, is one of the main French heritage buildings in the region. The hospital was removed from its location in the town in 1939 and moved to Hafnarnes. From 1939 to 1964 the hospital served as a school and then after that remained abandoned. In 2010, the hospital was handed over to its place of origin and was restored thanks to Minjavernd, the institution of the Icelandic heritage. The restoration of the hospital is complete since 2014, and the building is now a museum and a hotel. The morgue rebuilt in its entirety, is the replica of the original morgue, except that today it is used as an office.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

To the east of the village, there is a cemetery where the 49 French and Belgian sailors who lost their lives in Iceland or on its coast were laid to rest. The cemetery is easily accessible by a small path. Every year homage is paid to the missing sailors; during the French Days Festival. This festival, created in 1996, offers many activities, both Icelandic, and French throughout Fáskrúðsfjörður. In the village, street names and the various signs are in both languages - Icelandic and French.

Fáskrúðsfjörður is a twin town with the town Gravelines in the North of France.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

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