Time Capsule: Austurvöllur Square - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Time Capsule: Austurvöllur Square

Time Capsule: Austurvöllur Square

Published December 8, 2017

Greig Robertson
Photo by
Timothée Lambrecq

Austurvöllur Square has been a public gathering space for Icelanders since the 1930s. Though the Square is now home to many cafés and restaurants, the presence of the statue of Independence leader Jón Sigurðsson seems to inspire a spirit of protest as well.

Arguably Iceland’s bloodiest uprising in modern history occurred here on March 30, 1949, when demonstrators expressed vociferous opposition to the Alþingi’s (Icelandic parliament) move to join NATO. As Iceland had been de-militarised in 1869, the decision to cooperate with major powers engaged in a Cold War was widely seen as an unnecessary contradiction of the nation’s peaceful principles. After rocks were thrown at the parliament building, police soon resorted to firing tear gas at protesters, who subsequently dispersed.

The Square continues this legacy today, and was most recently home to Iceland’s biggest-ever mass protest, provoked by Sigmundur Davið’s naming in the 2016 Panama Papers. While this gathering of around 22,000 Icelanders removed Davið from his post, it seems likely the Square will soon be called on again, given the current political climate.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!

Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.


Magazine-articles
Magazine Articles
Just Sayings: “Tekinn á Beinið”

Just Sayings: “Tekinn á Beinið”

by

Magazine-articles
Magazine Articles
Well, You Asked: This One Is For My Haters

Well, You Asked: This One Is For My Haters

by

Magazine-articles
Magazine Articles
Well, You Asked: Sagas, Slang & Socialising

Well, You Asked: Sagas, Slang & Socialising

by

Magazine-articles
Magazine Articles
Perfect Day: Ragga Hólm

Perfect Day: Ragga Hólm

by

Magazine-articles
Magazine Articles
Ask An Expert: Why Are There No Reindeer In Western Iceland?

Ask An Expert: Why Are There No Reindeer In Western Iceland?

by

Show Me More!