18th Century Stone Buildings
The first stone buildings in Iceland were eight fine official edifices constructed by the government in 1753-77: four residences for officials, and four churches. Designed by Denmark's leading court architects, they combine simplicity with elegance. The oldest is Viðey House, built for Treasurer Skúli Magnússon in 1753, followed by Hólar Cathedral in 1757. Nes House was built for the Director of Public Health, and Bessastaðir House for the Governor, both in 1761. The jail in Reykjavík (now Government House) was built in 1765, and finally three churches: on Viðey island in 1766, in the Westman Islands (Lönd Church) in 1774 and at Bessa-staðir in 1777. All these historic structures remain in use, as splendid as ever.
Author: Björn G. Björnsson