Many visitors driving from Keflavik Airport into Reykjavik report seeing an ancient Viking vessel seemingly floating in midair along Faxafloi Bay. This is no mirage, but an optical illusion provided by Viking World Museum which is the proud home of Islendingur (the Icelander), a Viking replica ship completed in 1996 by shipbuilder Gunnar Marel Eggertsson.

The impressive achievement is an exact replica of a vessel discovered during an excavation in Norway in 1880. It is believed to have been built around 870. Using only tools and materials available to Vikings during this time was no small task. It took more than two years to accomplish using these traditional methods.

In the year 2000 Gunnar Marel and a crew of nine passengers aboard Islendingur embarked from Iceland. They sailed to New York and back again to celebrate 1000 years since the discovery of America by the Vikings.

Smithsonian Institution exhibition

Viking World also hosts segments from the Smithsonian Institution’s Viking Millennium Exhibition, ‘Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga’. It sheds light on early Norse settlement and exploration.