Álftanes is a town and low-lying peninsula which extrudes from the eastern part of Reykjanes, located in Iceland’s Capital Region.
The municipality of Álftanes was merged into the neighboring municipality of Garðabær in January 2013. Álftanes had a population of 2,484 as of January 2011. The town contains the official residence of the President of Iceland, Bessastaðir.
Bessastaðir was first settled in 1000. It became one of Snorri Sturluson’s farms in the 13th century. After Snorri’s murder in September 1241, Bessastaðir was claimed by the King of Norway. Thereafter it became a Royal stronghold and the dwellings of the King’s highest-ranking officers and officials in Iceland. It resisted an attack by Turkish slave raiders in July 1627. In the late 18th century Bessastaðir was changed into a school for a few years, before becoming a farm. In 1867 the farm was purchased by the poet and statesman Grímur Thomsen, who lived there for almost two decades. Among later owners were editor and parliamentarian Skúli Thoroddsen, and his wife, Theodóra Thoroddsen, who was well known for her literary works. In 1940 Sigurður Jónasson bought Bessastaðir and donated it to the state in 1941 as a residence for the Regent and later the President of Iceland.
The President of Iceland is the head of state of Iceland. The incumbent is Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, who is now in his first term as president, elected in 2016.
The president is elected to a four-year term by popular vote, is not term-limited, and has limited powers. The presidential residence is situated in Bessastaðir in Garðabær, near the capital city Reykjavík.