Welcome to HANNESARHOLT, a non-profit organization located in the historic home of the late Hannes Hafstein, Iceland’s first prime minister, who negotiated with the king of Denmark in 1904, for a local person to represent the Danish ruler in Iceland. The house at Grundarstigur 10, built by Hannes Hafstein in 1915 as his last family home, is one of the first 15 concrete houses built in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. At the time, half the nation lived in turf houses, and therefore, the house at Grundarstigur 10 is an important landmark, now to be celebrated and shared by the local population, as an important part of the national heritage.
The legacy of Hannes Hafstein is a multifaceted one. Apart from being the first prime minister of Iceland, and on speaking terms with the Danish king, Hannes Hafstein was a prolific poet, who constantly spurred his fellow countrymen on, urged them to get up and rebuild, reclaim the former glory of the saga age, and roll up their sleeves to get moving forward towards a better future.
Hannes Hafstein was surrounded with remarkable women throughout his life, from his mother to his wife, mother-in-law, suffragette friends and sisters, even daughters, and he was instrumental in getting Icelandic women the right to vote, in 1911.
In a poem written by Hannes Hafstein at the turn of the nineteenth century, he states that: “culture thrives in the clearings of fresh (new) woods.” HANNESARHOLT is exactly such a place. With “holt” signifying an old representation of the word “woods,” the literal translation of the word is: “the fresh woods of Hannes. “ HANNESARHOLT is the fresh woods of Hannes.
The owners, Arnor Vikingsson, Ragnheidur Jonsdottir, and their children, Hrafnhildur, Vikingur Heidar, Marinella and Jon Agust, decided to buy the house at Grundarstigur 10, and open it to the public, once it had been salvaged from the claws of time and appropriately restored. Their dream is that Hannesarholt, the non-profit organization borrowing the house, can be a place of nurturing, a place where Icelanders, having sped too hastily towards modernity, can reclaim their roots, cultivate their sense of identity and remember who they are. An abundance has been given to us and quantities have been misplaced; and yet we have an opportunity to retrieve and reclaim cultural riches.
If you find in yourself an affinity with what we are trying to achieve in Hannesarholt: slow down, go inwards, retrieve and reclaim roots, remember the core and the essentials, you are welcome to join us, even if you are not Icelandic. Hannes Hafstein cherished “fresh winds” from foreign shores, and so do we at HANNESARHOLT.
HANNESARHOLT was opened to the public in February 2013, after the project of restoring and recreating was complete. A restaurant and cafe is operated on the first floor, and our chefs prepare breakfast or brunch, fresh fish, vegetables and meat for lunch, and our conditor fills the house with the tempting aroma of fresh baked delicacies. Facilities are rented out for private parties, meetings, courses, lectures, chamber music and other small gatherings on the second-and third floor of the building, as well as in the new assembly hall in the back yard, Hljóðberg. Hljóðberg is an exquisite music venue, adorned with one of the best Steinway 211 Grand pianos in the country, and a painting by the artist Eggert Pétursson. A guest apartment is located next door, provided to artists performing at the centre or rented out to visitors.