Neighbourhood of the Gods

Around Skólavörðuholt hill, fifteen streets carry names from Norse Mythology. The neighbourhood is sometimes referred to as the Neighbourhood of the Gods as Thor, Freyja and many more gods from the pagan religion have their own streets here. At one time, city authorities tried to name the area Asgard, one of the nine worlds in Norse Mythology and home of the gods, but the name did not stick.

The one eyed and wisdom seeking Odin was the first god to have his namesake here, not surprisingly as he is traditionally considered to be the highest of the gods residing in Asgard. Odinsgata got its name in 1906 and it set the tone for other street names in the area for the next 25 years or so.

The main source of knowledge about the pagan world view is to be found in the Edda of Snorri Sturluson and the Poetic Edda. The 13th century Codex Regius, which is the oldest preserved manuscript containing the Edda poems, is one of the most valuable Icelandic manuscripts. It is preserved by the Árni Magnússon Institute here in Reykjavik. Snorri‘s Edda collects material from the poems and other sources and paints a clear picture of the gods. One of them is Njord that this street, Njarðargata, is named after:

”The third As is the one called Njord. He lives in heaven in a place called Noatun. He rules over the motion of wind and moderates sea and fire. It is to him one must pray for voyages and fishing.“

The naming system in the neighbourhood does not seem to reflect certain myths, with a few exceptions. The fact that Baldursgata and Nönnugata intersect is hardly a coincidence, as Baldur and Nanna are husband and wife. In the same fashion, it is meaningful that Válastígur and Haðarstígur lay side by side next to Baldursgata. Hodur the blind and Váli are Baldur‘s brothers. Hodur is tricked by Loki to shoot an arrow made from mistletoe at Baldur, and is thus indirectly responsible for his death. In revenge, Váli slays Hodur.

It is interesting to note that some of the major gods do not make their way onto the city map. The goddess Frigg is one of them, as are Sif and Heimdallur. On the other hand, if you travel to Copenhagen, you will find Heimsdallsgade, Friggagatan is in Gothenburgh and on the planet Venus there is a volcano carrying the name of Sif.

Íslenska translation unavailable for godahverfikortid.jpg.



Old drawing of the god Odin