The gleaming steel sculpture on Reykjavik’s splendid waterfront that resembles a Viking long-ship is the ‘Solfar’ or ‘Sun Voyager.’  The artist Jon Gunnar Arnason created the striking landmark.

Many locals enjoy strolling by the seaside and marveling at the view of the bay with Mount Esja in the background. The Sun Voyager is also a great attraction for tourists. It offers a superb photo opportunity, especially when the sun is setting.

Does Solfarid represent a viking ship?

It is a common misunderstanding that Sun Voyager is a Viking ship. It is quite understandable that many tourists think this when travelling in Iceland, the land of the Sagas. Nonetheless, it should be stressed that this was not the original intention. It is a dream boat and an ode to the sun. It represents the promise of undiscovered territory and a dream of hope, progress and freedom.

In 1986, the district association funded a competition for an outdoor sculpture to celebrate Reykjavik‘s 200 year anniversary. The Sun Voyager was the winning piece.

Solfarid – An ode to the sun

Jon Gunnar was very ill with leukemia at the time that the full-scale Sun Voyager was constructed. He died in April 1989, a year before it was placed in its present location. Some people have thus suggested that Jon Gunnar conceived the work during this time when he might have been preoccupied with death. They have argued that Sun Voyager should be seen as a vessel that transports souls to the realm of the afterlife.

While this is a nice idea and might be imagined to have some validity, it actually has little truth (at least from the point of view of the artist). As noted above, Sun Voyager was essentially envisaged as being a dream boat. It is an ode to the sun, symbolizing light and hope.

Photographing Solfarid

Facing the majestic Esja, Sun Voyager is in a wonderful spot for photo opportunities whether you are enjoying a midday stroll or taking in the full significance of the artwork’s name during the summer’s Midnight Sun.

Because of the beautiful setting and spectacular nature of the Sun Voyager, it has become one of the most popular attractions in Reykjavik.

Where is the Sun Voyager?

Solfarid is located on the seashore of Reykjavik close to the city center, just a few minutes walking distance east of Harpa Concert Hall.

GPS: 64.14761 N, -21.922288 W