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BESSASTADIR PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE

Region: Reykjavik Area
Coordinates: 64.1058012° N 21.9966091° W

THE ESTATE and PARSONAGE
GOVERNOR’s PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE BESSASTADIR

From 1867, Bessastadir became private property again until a Reykjavik businessman, Sigurdur Jonsson, donated it for the future residence of the Sagas of IcelandIcelandic presidents in 1941. It is assumed, that Bessastadir has been a site of a church since the year 1000 and the first documented sources mention a church there in the year 1200. It took about 20 years to finish the construction of the present church, which was consecrated in 1796.

It is among the oldest buildings made of cemented stones in the country. The construction of the steeple was not finished until 1823. The church possessed one third of the Bessastadir property in the 15th century, when the first governors of Norway made their seat there. The church and its possessions were confiscated by the Norwegian crown. Christian VII of Denmark decided in 1773 to have a new church constructed. It is not quite clear, who designed it, but most likely it was G.D. Anthon.

The construction material, stones from the Gallow Lava field east of Bessastadir, was transported on open boats. In 1841, The Bessastadir School came into possession of Bessastadir and the church became a county church in 1867 and remained as such until 1941. The church was decorated with its stained windows in 1956 to commemorate the 60th birthday of the second president of the country, Asgeir Asgeirsson.

The altar rail depicts the apostles and remind of the protecting spirits of the country. The large, carved crucifix on the north wall was the altarpiece before. The present one shows Jesus healing the sick. The altar cloth is made of flax, grown at Bessastadir. A thorough restoration of the church was carried out in 1998.

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