A village with a completely unpronounceable name, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, meaning Monastery Church Farm. This small village had just 160 residents and is the only village located between the towns Hofn and Vik that offers services to tourists such as a hostel, supermarket, bank and a gas station.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur

History

Before Kirkjubæjarklaustur was established, it consisted of a farm with Benedictine Monks who came from Ireland and, in 1186, established a monastery that operated until 1550, the year in which the Protestant Reformation came to Iceland.

Many names of mountains and other geological features in the area still bear Catholic orientated names to commemorate the days of old.

Half a kilometer from Kirkjubæjarklaustur gas station there is a site named Kirkjugólfið that means "church floor", a natural mosaic floor made of hexagonal basalt, just a few minutes' walk from the road. In the northern part of the village, there is an interesting natural phenomenon of two waterfalls in close proximity of each other, one with cold water and the other with hot water.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Mosaic of Basalt. Photo: Sonja Pieper

Kirkjubæjarklaustur village became famous after the eruption of the Lakagígar volcano 51 miles away, in 1783. The priest of the local church, Jón Steingrímsson, delivered what became known as the "Sermon of Fire", and legend has it that the sermon stopped the flow of lava and the village was saved at the last moment. The present church, built in 1974, was established in his memory.

Today the village is an important center for the farms in the area as well as tourists visiting the region. Many Icelanders own summer vacation cabins located near the lake.

Map of Kirkjubæjarklaustur