Bessastaðir, an ancient manor farm, official residence of the President of Iceland. First mention of Bessastaðir is in Íslendinga saga (The Saga of the Icelanders) by Sturla Þórðarson; the place then belonged to Snorri Sturluson. Later it became the first royal estate in Iceland, being in the possession of the King of Norway. From 1805 Bessastaðir was the site of the highest educational institution in Iceland, Lærði skólinn ("The learned school"), for 40 years.
The eminent poet Grímur Thomsen (1820–96) was born at Bessastaðir and lived there from 1867. Upon his death, Bessastaðir became a private estate and remained so until 1941, since when it has been the official residence of the President of the Republic: Sveinn Björnsson (1881–1952) lived there from 1941 to 1952, first as governor then (from 1944) as president, Ásgeir Ásgeirsson (1894–1972) from 1952 to 1968, Kristján Eldjárn (1916–82) from 1968 to 1980, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (b. 1930) from 1980 to 1996 and Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (b. 1943) from 1996.
The main building is among the oldest houses in Iceland, built in 1761–66. It has since been added to and renovated. Further renovations were made in 1987 in Bessastaðastofa, revealing some relics of major importance under the floorboards. The church at Bessastaðir was built 1777–1823. Ruins of a fort from the 17th century at Skansinn.