(w.r. Karl E. H. Seigfried)
Reykjavík's Neighborhood of the Gods is an area in Iceland's capital city featuring streets named after figures from Norse mythology. In 1906, Óðinsgata (Odin's Street) was the first street in this part of the city to be named for one of the Norse gods. Many others followed, creating what became known as the Heathen Neighborhood. In the mid-1920s, the district was known for poorly-built houses and the poverty of its inhabitants, leading some to refer to it as the Blasphemy – meaning that the deteriorated condition of the neighborhood was an affront to the gods whose names it bore. With the usual tides of population change that sweep through urban areas, the neighborhood is now considered a fashionable place to live.
The first street in the Neighborhood of the Gods is named for Odin, the Allfather of the Norse pantheon. In 1912, six years after Óðinsgata was dedicated, Baldursgata (Baldur's Street) became the second street in the district named for one of the Norse gods. Balder or Baldur, the bright and beautiful, is better known for his death and afterlife than for any actions he accomplished while alive. Troubled by dreams, magically protected, killed by mistletoe and trapped in Hel's domain, Baldur will return after Ragnarök.
Haðarstígur (Höðr's Lane) was named in 1925 for the blind god (Baldur's brother) who killed Baldur by shooting him with a mistletoe missile. Höðr's hand was guided by the scheming Loki (God of Chaos) who was jealous of the attention the gods were paying to the seemingly invulnerable Baldur.
The street was likely designed for garbage pickup, sadly underscoring Höðr's status as an outsider, left out of the god's joyous games.
Nanna was the wife of Baldur. She died of a broken heart at his funeral and was placed on the burning pyre alongside her husband. Nönnugata (Nanna's Street) was named for her in 1919. The streets named for Baldur and Nanna intersect one another. The love shared between the god and goddess was stronger than death, and the two of them journeyed together to the dark realms of Hel, the sinister ruler of the afterlife. Today, Baldur and Nanna remain connected in the streets of Reykjavík's Neighborhood of the Gods.