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Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature

Reykjavík has been designated a UNESCO City of Literature and is the first non-native English-speaking city to receive this prestigious title. Reykjavík is the fifth city in the world to receive the title and joins other UNESCO Cities of Literature including; Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa City and Dublin. The title is a permanent one, under the condition that the city fulfils its commitments relative to the title. UNESCO Cities of Literature are part of the larger UNESCO Creative Cities Network, of which Reykjavik is the 29th member.

Reykjavík boasts a veritable abundance of literary riches, with our Icelandic medieval literature ranking amongst the world’s most important and culturally significant. Still read the world over, The Icelandic Sagas, which tell of extensive family disputes between blood-thirsty Vikings, are a case in point. The Culture House exhibits some of the original medieval manuscripts, including the poetic Edda - the key to Nordic mythology - which is undoubtedly amongst the most important medieval literature specimens ever preserved. The Arnemagnean Manuscript Collection, also preserved in Reykjavík, was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2009.

The contemporary Icelandic literary scene is booming and the city is home to a number of authors who have received recognition for their writing, both on the domestic market and abroad. Some of these authors have won international awards, including the successful novelist Arnaldur Indridason, who is well-known for his Reykjavík-based crime novels.

As a UNESCO City of Literature, the City of Reykjavík cooperates with key partners in the field and aims to further enhance literary life in the city by establishing a Centre for literature and a platform for literary events and projects of all kinds. In addition, there are projects aimed at stimulating reading and cooperation within the educational system.

With this title, the city has been given a creative energy boost and has inspired new and exciting projects in the field of literature and other arts, which can be viewed on the Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature website.