Located along Reykjavik’s scenic waterfront is a quaint whitewashed building known as Hofdi House. A major world historical event took place here in 1986 when the presidents of Russia and the US, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, met to end the Cold War. 

The story of Hofdi

Hofdi House has original connections with France. In the 19th century and early 20th century, French fishermen frequented Icelandic fishing grounds.  Mr. Brillouin, the French consul, was sent to Reykjavik to assist them.  He arranged to import a wooden house from Norway and have it set up in Reykjavik. The house was completed in 1909. There are several of these wooden “catalog style” in Iceland, but Hofdi House is one of the most beautiful.

Today, Hofdi House is the site for official city social functions. Although closed to the general public, the grounds make for an enjoyable stroll.  People like to visit a sculpture in front of the building which depicts the high seat pillars that belonged to the Viking chieftain who became the first settler of Reykjavik.

The 1986 summit in Hofdi – beginning of the end of the Cold war

Hofdi house has had many famous visitors throughout the years. Undoubtedly, the most famous visitor is probably Sir Winston Churchill, who came to Iceland in 1941. Among other guests who have visited Hofdi is Marlene Dietrich. In 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in Hofdi House.  The two presidents discussed different matters in the meeting. Reagan was eager to discuss human rights, the emigration of Soviet Jews and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but Gorbachev wished to limit the talks to arms control.

Although the meeting did not end with an agreement, it was in fact very fruitful. Both sides discovered what concessions the other side was willing to make, and human rights became a subject in the discussions between these two super-powers for the first time. Many historians believe that the Reykjavik Summit was a major breakthrough, as it eventually facilitated the INF Treaty signed at the Washington Summit in 1987.

Is Hofdi house haunted?

Some Icelanders say that Hofdi is haunted, and there have been many reports of strange sounds heard in the night. The Icelandic Foreign Ministry has officially stated that they can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a ghost in Hofdi.

Where is the Hofdi house?

If you walk  for a few minutes along the shoreline east from Harpa Concert Hall,  you will see a prominent white building to your right, nestled in between a skyscraper (Ok, it’s a skyscraper in Iceland!) and a few office buildings.

GPS: 64.146539 N, -21.906414 W