Knappsstaðakirkja and Other Churches

“Why are there so many churches in Iceland,” first-time visitors, and others, might ask themselves.

When driving around the country it sometimes seems as if a new church appears on the horizon after every bend on the road; beautifully located in the landscape.

And how many churches are there? The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland owns more than 350 churches in the country. Some small, others bigger, the biggest of which is Hallgrímskirkja, towering over the capital city. Other Christian segregations have approximately 50 houses of worship—none in the countryside.

The small and traditional Icelandic countryside churches are scattered around the island. Which churches are the most beautiful is a matter of taste, but here are ten churches worth visiting:

Unaðsdalskirkja, Ísafjarðardjúp, the West Fjords;

Narfeyrarkirkja, Snæfellsnes, West Iceland;

Strandakirkja, Reykjanes, Southwest Iceland;

Grafarkirkja, Skaftártunga, Southeast Iceland;

Núpsstaðarkirkja, Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Southeast Iceland;

Berufjarðarkirkja, East Fjords;

Skinnastaðarkirkja, Öxarfjörður, Northeast Iceland;

Grenjaðarstaðarkirkja, Suður-Þingeyjarsýsla, Northeast Iceland;

Laufáskirkja, Eyjafjörður, Northeast Iceland;

Knappsstaðakirkja, Fljót, Northwest Iceland.

As to why there are so many churches: transportation was rather primitive until the Ring Road opened in 1974, with unbridged rivers and mountains cutting places off from neighboring areas, and therefore each rural district needed its own church.


Text and photo by Páll Stefánsson.

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