Last updated
Tjornin, Reykjavik.jpg
Tjörnin as seen from Skothúsvegur (a bridge)
Iceland relief map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location Reykjavík
Coordinates 64°08′40″N21°56′33″W / 64.14444°N 21.94250°W / 64.14444; -21.94250
Basin  countriesIceland
Average depth0.57 m (1 ft 10 in)
Max. depth0.8 m (2 ft 7 in)
Surface elevationabout 16 m (52 ft)

Tjörnin (Icelandic pronunciation:  [ˈtʰjœ(r)tnɪn] ) is a small, prominent lake in central Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. Most visitors to the city pass along its shore, as it is situated in the city centre next to the Reykjavik City Hall and several museums. Tjörnin means "the pond". [1]


Feeding the birds on the lake shores is a popular pastime, so much that it has been referred to as "the biggest bread soup in the world". [2]


Tjornin as seen from Hallgrimskirkja View from Hallgrimskirkja 6.JPG
Tjörnin as seen from Hallgrímskirkja

Tjörnin is described as a lagoon next to a barrier beach. [3] The lake's formation is attributed to the lagoon which was part of a reef that existed at the present location of Hafnarstræti (a city street, "Harbour Street"). [1] This street, which passes through the business section of the city, lies on the southern side of the lake and leads to the gardens. [1] The Vatnsmýri marsh feeds the lake. [4] The outflow from the lake is Lækurinn, previously an open water channel flowing through the city centre, but since 1911 part of the sewage system under Lækjargata. [5] During the winter, the lake usually freezes periodically and is used for ice skating. [6] The average depth is 0.57m (1.9 feet) with the deepest point at 0.8m (2.4 feet). [7] Both banks of the lake are paved and terminate at the Hljómskálagarður (formally known as Tjarnargarður), a well-tended park decorated with statues to the south of the lake. The winding paths are frequented by joggers and cyclists. Notice boards along the shore give daily reports of the numbers of birds on the lake. [1]


Water birds during winter in a frost free area Iceland Tjornin pond.jpg
Water birds during winter in a frost free area

The lake is frequented by between 40 and 50 species of water birds, including the Arctic tern, the Eider, the Gadwall, the Greylag goose and other species of goose, the Mallard, several species of seagulls, and the scaup. [8] [9] Whooper swan are viewable within close proximity. [10] The Arctic tern’s arrival heralds the start of summer. [11] Birders from all over the North Atlantic come to pursue their hobby in the lake area. The lake is also a favorite place to take young children to watch and feed birds. [6] The popularity of bird feeding has led to the lake being poetically referred to as "the biggest bread soup in the world" (stærsta brauðsúpa í heimi). [12] Lately, however, preying seagulls have caused the City Council to issue warnings to residents, asking them to refrain from feeding the ducks in Tjörnin to avoid putting ducklings at risk. [13]


Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík church

The earliest urban development of Reykjavík took place between the lake and the northern coast of the peninsula. Over the years, the lake became an integral part of the urban environment. Development of the city has centered around the lake. The postmodern City Hall, Ráðhúsið, stands in the northwest corner on the edge of the lake: it looks as if it is rising out of the lake. [14] Other notable buildings in the area are those of the Supreme Court, Reykjavík Art Museum, the National Museum, the Living Art Museum, Reykjavík City Library, and the National Theatre, as well as the Parliament building, which houses the Parliament of Iceland, and the Dómkirkja cathedral, [15] apart from a shopping complex and restaurants. [16] Several buildings belonging to the University of Iceland are also close by. [17]

Reykjavík airport is situated immediately south of the lake, on the other side of the Hringbraut thoroughfare.

A wooden pedestrian bridge was built over Tjörnin in 1920. To accommodate motorized traffic, the original construction was replaced in 1942 by a concrete bridge which is still in use. [18]


Vatnsmýrin Reserve, the protected area around Tjörnin, has deteriorated in recent years as evidenced by a drop in the variety of reported birds. Part of the issue is attributed to the lack of appropriate nesting grounds due to invasive flora species as well as the presence of animals in the reserve. Action plans have been initiated jointly by the Nordic House, the University of Iceland, and Reykjavík City Council, to improve the reserve's condition with appropriate wetland vegetation, construction of embankments and sedimentation ponds to improve the water flow, as well as some desilting of the lake. [19] [20]

Tjörnin was the setting for scenes in the 2010 film Gauragangur as well as a tragic scene from the 2014 film Life in a Fishbowl . [21]

Tjornin Panorama.jpg
180 degree view of Tjörnin
Tjornin Panorama 2014.jpg
Panoramic image of Tjörnin in July 2014

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reykjavík</span> Capital and largest city of Iceland

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói bay. Its latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. Reykjavík has a population of around 140,000 as of 2023.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arctic tern</span> Bird that breeds in the Arctic and sub-Arctic and migrates to the Antarctic

The Arctic tern is a tern in the family Laridae. This bird has a circumpolar breeding distribution covering the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. The species is strongly migratory, seeing two summers each year as it migrates along a convoluted route from its northern breeding grounds to the Antarctic coast for the southern summer and back again about six months later. Recent studies have shown average annual round-trip lengths of about 70,900 km (44,100 mi) for birds nesting in Iceland and Greenland and about 48,700 km (30,300 mi) for birds nesting in the Netherlands. These are by far the longest migrations known in the animal kingdom. The Arctic tern nests once every one to three years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Whooper swan</span> Species of bird

The whooper swan, also known as the common swan, pronounced hooper swan, is a large northern hemisphere swan. It is the Eurasian counterpart of the North American trumpeter swan, and the type species for the genus Cygnus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parasitic jaeger</span> Species of bird

The parasitic jaeger, also known as the Arctic skua, Arctic jaeger or parasitic skua, is a seabird in the skua family Stercorariidae. It is a migratory species that breeds in Northern Scandinavia, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Northern Canada, Alaska, and Siberia and winters across the southern hemisphere. Kleptoparasitism is a major source of food for this species during migration and winter, and is where the name is derived from.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jökulsárlón</span> Glacial lake in Iceland

Jökulsárlón is a large glacial lake in southern part of Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland. Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the glaciers. It is now about 8 km (5.0 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). In 2009 it was reported to be the deepest lake in Iceland, at over 284 m (932 ft), as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grímsey</span> Island in Northeast Constituency, Iceland

Grímsey is a small Icelandic island, 40 kilometres off the north coast of the main island of Iceland, where it straddles the Arctic Circle. Grímsey is also known for the puffins and other sea birds which visit the island for breeding.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bolungarvík</span> Municipality in Westfjords, Iceland

Bolungarvík is a small town and the only built-up area in the municipality of Bolungarvíkurkaupstaður in the northwest of Iceland, located on the Westfjords peninsula, approximately 14 km (8.7 mi) from the town of Ísafjörður and 473 km (294 mi) from the capital city Reykjavík.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arnaldur Indriðason</span> Icelandic writer

Arnaldur Indriðason is an Icelandic writer of crime fiction; his most popular series features the protagonist Detective Erlendur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ragnar Axelsson</span>

Ragnar Guðni Axelsson, also known as RAX, is an Icelandic photographer. He was a staff photographer of Morgunblaðið from 1974 to 2020. Ragnar has done work and stories for various agencies and magazines, shooting in Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland, Indonesia, Scandinavia, and Siberia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wildlife of Burundi</span> Flora and fauna in Burundi

The wildlife of Burundi is composed of its flora and fauna. The small, landlocked country is home to 2,950 species of plants, 596 birds, 163 species of mammals, 52 species of reptiles, 56 species of amphibians, and 215 fish species. The wildlife has been drastically reduced in recent years, mainly on account of intense population pressure, conversion of large areas of forest into agricultural land, and extensive livestock farming. The protected area encompasses little more than 5% of the total area of the country.

kimono (band) Icelandic-Canadian math rock band

kimono are an Icelandic-Canadian math rock band, formed in 2001. The group consists of Alison MacNeil, Gylfi Blöndal and Kjartan Bragi Bjarnason. Blöndal is also a member of Hudson Wayne and Mr. Silla and Bjarnason plays drums Seabear and has performed on a number of other Icelandic independent albums.

Þorbjörg Guðrún Pálsdóttir was an Icelandic sculptor. She is perhaps best known for her four green alien-like public statues Dansleikur/Dance in Reykjavík, which she completed in 1970, and which is located on Perlan, the highest hill in the city. Other works of note include Par (1994) and Boy and Girl (1968), located at Tjörnin. She was a member of the Icelandic Sculptors Society, which she established in the Icelandic capital in 1972 along with Hallsteinn Sigurðsson, Jon Gunnar Árnason, Ragnar Kjartansson and others.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve</span> Nature reserve in South Africa

Umhlanga lagoon is a 26 hectares nature reserve on the shore of the Indian Ocean at Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa. The reserve encloses the Ohlanga River's lagoon and mouth. The forest forms a natural extension of the less accessible Hawaan Forest, of which the greater part lies inland of the busy M4 road. The reserve trails start at a car park at the northern end of Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Breiðamerkursandur</span>

Breiðamerkursandur is a glacial outwash plain in southeast Iceland. The area is mostly sand, although some vegetation is beginning to grow in the area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Killing caves of Phnom Sampeau</span>

The killing caves of Phnom Sampeau are a Khmer Rouge execution site on Phnom Sampeau, a hill 7 mi (11 km) southwest of Battambang in western Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge killed their victims on top of the cave at the rim of a daylight shaft or ceiling hole and then threw the dead body into the cave. Men and women were placed in separate caves and clothes in another. There are a number of caves at Phnom Sampeau that have traditionally served as Buddhist temples. Today there is a large glass memorial in the cave next to the skulls and bones and a golden reclining Buddha, that can be reached via a staircase. A memorial, assembled from cyclone fencing and chicken wire contains human bones at the base of the stairway.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wildlife of Mongolia</span>

The wildlife of Mongolia consists of unique flora and fauna in 3092.75 habitats dictated by the diverse and harsh climatic conditions found in the country. Then the north, salty marshes, fresh-water sources, desert steppes at the centre, and semi deserts, as well as the hot Gobi desert in the south, the fifth largest desert in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bhangarh Fort</span> Historical fort in Rajasthan, India

The Bhangarh Fort is a 16th-century fort built in the Rajasthan state of India. The town was established during the rule of Bhagwant Das as the residence of his second son, Madho Singh. The fort and its precincts are well preserved.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barefoot Park</span>

Barefoot Park is a zen-inspired public park in Medellín, Colombia. The park was funded by EPM and designed by architect Felipe Uribe de Bedout. The park includes a green area with gardens and bamboo, a sand area, and an area with water fountains. As suggested by its name, the park is playful in nature. Children and adults are encouraged to play in the park barefoot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir</span>

Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir, also known as Vala Thorodds, is an Icelandic poet, publisher, translator and literary curator. She is one of the founders and current directors of Meðgönguljóð, a grassroots literary organisation and publisher of poetry based in Iceland. Her work has appeared in print in various anthologies and magazines in Reykjavík, Berlin, Bristol, and Zaragosa. In 2014, Valgerður was nominated on behalf of Iceland to the PEN International New Voices Award. She lives in Reykjavík.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Leffman, David; Proctor, James (1 June 2010). The Rough Guide to Iceland. Rough Guides. pp. 138–. ISBN   978-1-4053-8753-8 . Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  2. Examples of usage:
  3. Migoń, Piotr, ed. (2010). Geomorphological Landscapes of the World. Springer. pp. 243–. ISBN   978-90-481-3055-9.
  4. "102 Reykjavik, Iceland". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  5. Óla, Árni (12 May 1979). "Lækjartorg" (pdf). Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). Reykjavik. p. 10. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  6. 1 2 Lonely Planet; Fran Parnell; Brandon Presser (1 September 2010). Lonely Planet Iceland. Lonely Planet. pp. 83–. ISBN   978-1-74220-346-1.
  7. "'Iceland Magazine'". Torg. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  8. Riley, Laura; Riley, William (1 January 2005). Nature's Strongholds: The World's Greatest Wildlife Reserves. Princeton University Press. pp. 384–. ISBN   978-0-691-12219-9.
  9. Top 10 Iceland. DK Publishing. 1 June 2012. pp. 105–. ISBN   978-0-7566-9442-5.
  10. Brazil, Mark (31 January 2010). The Whooper Swan. A&C Black. pp. 27–. ISBN   978-1-4081-2867-1.
  11. Hannesson, Gunnar (1974). Reykjavík: a panorama in four seasons. Iceland Review Books. p. 16.
  12. Kelen, Kit; Sundmark, Bjorn (11 February 2013). The Nation in Children’s Literature: Nations of Childhood. Routledge. pp. 69–. ISBN   978-1-136-24894-8.
  13. "Summer Ban On Feeding Ducks In Tjörnin". The Reykjavík Grapevine. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  14. Design from Scandinavia. World Pictures. 1996.
  15. Europe on a Shoestring . Lonely Planet. 2009. pp.  588–. ISBN   978-1-74220-334-8.
  16. "Reykjavic: UNESCO City of Literature" (pdf). UNESCO Organization. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  17. "Transport in Reykjavík". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  18. "Brýrnar í borginni" [The City's Bridges](pdf). Fréttablaðið (in Icelandic). Reykjavik. 14 August 2006. p. 33. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  19. "Actions Planned for Reykjavík Nature Reserve". Iceland Review Online. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  20. "Nature reserve in Vatnsmýrin". Nordichouse Organization. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  21. Conolly, Jez; Whelan, Caroline (2012). World Film Locations Reyjavik. Intellect Books. p. 93. ISBN   978-1-84150-641-8 . Retrieved 20 July 2013.