Life has often been hard in this country.
Then people needs a god to turn to.
There seems to be 358 churches and chapels belonging to the Icelandic 'Þjóðkirkju' (the State church) and also 10 other churches. That means about 870 Icelanders per church.
The small Brautarholtskirkja, built 1853, stands in Kjalarnes (600 inhabitants), across the bay north of Reykjavík. There is another black church further north, in Búðir, Snæfellsnes.
Þingvallakirkja, the church at the former thingstead Þingvellir has been there for a thousand years, but the present one was built in 1859.
Hallgrímskirkja in Saurbær, built 1957, is named in honor of the great Icelandic poet Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-1674), which is also the case for the monumental Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. This smaller church is situated near Reykjavík, on the north side of Hvalfjörður. The main road went past it and around the fjord until a tunnel under the fjord opened in 1998. Hallgrímur was minister in this district for some years.
This new Reykholtkirkja was consecrated in 1996 and the Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval Center, the extension to the left, was opened in 2000. This is on the farm where the writer, historian and politician Snorri Sturluson (1178–1241) lived.
The old Reykholtkirkja was built in 1887. It stand right behind the new church and Snorrastofa.
Miklabæjarkirkja, the church in Miklibær i Blönduhlið, was built in 1973 when the old church had burnt down. This is in the Skagafjördur district, it stands close to the Ring Road east of Varmahlið.
Glaumbæjarkirkja is situated on rout 75 south of Sauðárkrókur, north of Varmahlið on the west side of the wide and shallow Héraðsvötn river valley. It was built in 1925–26. Close by you'll find the Skagafjördur Folk museum on Glaumbær, exhibiting (wood-)turf houses from the eighteen hundreds, visible to the right. (Picture of the museum buildings on the large image page.)
Reykjahlíðarkirkja on the east side of Mývatn was build in 1972. An older church on the same site was spared when an eruption in the Krafla area covered the surrounding area by lava in 1729.
Skútustaðakirkja, built 1861–63 on the south side of the lake Mývatn. If you have seen the rest of my website you may have noticed that one of my favorite objects is churches. In Norway churches hidden among trees are often a problem. Trees are easy to plant, but it's very difficult to obtain a consensus to remove any of them. This might be even more true on this barren island, I just didn't anticipate it. You may note that the leaves of the birches are still small; the spring is very late here this year.
Stóruborgarkirkja was moved here from a nearby ancient church site, Klausturhólum í Grimsnesi, in 1931. Stora-Borg is found at Rout 35 northwest of Selfoss.
Úthlíðarkirkja on the farm Úthlíð a few kilometers west of Stóri Geysir. The 60 seats church was built in 2005–6 by the farmer Björn Sigurðsson in memory of his wife Ágústa Ólafsdóttir who died in 2004. A former church on this site was destroyed by a storm in 1935.
Selfosskirkja, built 1952–56 on the bank of the river Ölfusá. During 1978–84 it was expanded with a tower and congregation center.
The tiny white and red house on a mound on the brink contains monitoring equipment for the water level; you'll find these houses on many river banks. Ölfusá is Island's largest river, formed by Hvítá (essentially from Langjökull, through Gullfoss) and Sog (from Þingvallavatn). Selfoss is a town with 6000 inhabitants. The name Sel-foss means 'seal-waterfall'. In the rapids further down the river seals often appear. (Not to be confused with Selfoss in North Iceland, which is a waterfall just south of Dettifoss.)
Inside the Selfoss church – Selfosskirkja.
A window painting in the Selfoss church. To the left the Icelandic version of the Christian Lord's Prayer ('Our Father').
Grafarkirkja í Skaftártungu was built in 1931. It is found west of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, on route 208, 10 kilometers north of the Ring Road.
As in most Icelandic graveyards, many or all graves are raised, probably built up by turf. I can only guess why this custom has evolved. Most of this country has little or no topsoil, so in many places digging deep may be impossible. I might be wrong – does anybody know?
An elevated grave with a grass cross in the Prestbakki (Kirkjubæjarklaustur) churchyard.
Inscription on a gravestone without a grave in the Höfn cemetery:
In memory of
beloved far away
Then comes a quotation from David's Psalm 121, translation from Icelandic continued:
I lift my eyes to the mountains. Wherefrom comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, creator of heaven and earth.
Icelanders have always been fishing in the ocean, and Höfn is, as the name says, a harbor. So naturally, many deceased do not rest in consecrated soil.
There are also pictures of churches in some other sections.