Nine Churches in Southwest Iceland

One thing that Iceland is known for is magnificent mountains, and fields of moss-covered volcanic rocks. Scattered across the landscape one easily spots many small, bright white churches. Some looked like there were in the middle of nowhere. Most look like they can seat only 4 or 5 dozen worshipers. The “state religion” in Iceland is Lutheran so I feel that most, if not all the church buildings I visited were Lutheran Churches. I had limited time so I split off from most of my tour group and meet them in a few days, and my return flight was booked – so not enough time to do an in-depth study of all the churches. Also see the second half of this article.


4mosfel_8202Not far out of Reykjavík, headed toward Þingvellir, we found a church high on a hill. The sign out front said we were at Mosfel, but the rest of the sign was in Icelandic.[1] Unlike many of the other churches we stopped at, this one was not open, but we wondered around the grounds and found some old grave stones.


4thingvellir_8210Our next stop was at Þingvellir for some Geocaching. As a bonus we spotted the church at this historic site. You’re probably wondering how to pronounce “Þingvellir”, well the “Þ” is the Icelandic letter Thor, so the American way would the to speak it as Thing-vellar. The locals told us that the double ‘l’ would be pronounced as a ‘dl’. While looking for the Geocache 4housesatthingvellir_8206we saw the church at this historic site, on the far side of the river, and security was higher than normal. The Prime Minister of Finland was visiting at the same time as we were caching and taking photos. The result was that I only took photos of the church and the other buildings from a distance.

near Laugarvatn

4bluechurch_8276After we left Þingvellir, and stopped just outside of the park for some lunch – a good Carrot Soup and a piece of, what I think was Home-Made-Bread. I turned off my GPS, the one I use for Geocaching, the result is that I don’t have any location information. So I can only say that this church is on Route 35 somewhere between Þingvellirand the geysers at Geysir. If any reader knows it’s location I’d appreciate you letting me know. 4bluechurchalterj_8283

4bluechruchinside_8285 This one was open, I was able to get some photos if the interior, as I could at most of the rest of the churches.4bluechurchangel_8288

Somewhere on Route-35

4rt35_8564Our venture next took us north on Route 35 and the geysers at Geysir. Again, in the middle of nowhere we saw another photogenic church. This time I did have the GPS turned on, but the best I can tell this church is on Route-35 about 5km north of the intersection with Route-31 leading to Skálholt.
4rt35_8571 4rt35_8572 4rt35_8580

Time for a break

Well, here we are at the end seeing of 4 churches, with 5 more to go and this post getting a bit long. It’s time for a rest, so I’ll pick up where I left off and continue my ramble through southern Iceland in a week or so.


About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
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2 Responses to Nine Churches in Southwest Iceland

  1. Why Does Þingvellir Church Have Two Altarpieces? — Inside the church are two altarpieces. One depicts the Last Supper, and was painted on driftwood by local farmer and craftsman Ófeigur Jónsson in 1834. The other, “Christ Healing the Blind Man,” from 1896, is by Danish painter Niels Anker Lund (1840-1922). Ófeigur’s painting was the original altarpiece, but it was deemed too primitive and amateurish by church authorities and replaced by Lund’s painting at great expense. Ófeigur’s painting was bought for a pittance by a Victorian heiress named Mary Disney Leith (1840-1926). Leith, who had a lifelong fascination with Iceland, journeyed there 18 times, wrote travel memoirs, and translated some sagas. The piece ended up in the collection of St. Peter’s Church, Shorwell, on the Isle of Wight, near Leith’s estate. When Þingvellir church was renovated in 1970, Magnus Magnusson — the prolific author, saga translator, and longtime “Quizmaster” on BBC1’s Mastermind — tracked it down with the help of Mrs. Leith’s granddaughter. The congregation in Shorwell Church returned it in exchange for a replica made at Iceland’s National Museum.

  2. Pingback: Nine Churches in Southwest Iceland – Part 2 | Weakly Thoughts

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