Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

Hofskirkja church is a beautiful turf church in the Öræfi region in South-East Iceland. There are only 6 turf churches remaining in Iceland and Hofskirkja is the last of the old churches to be built in this beautiful turf style.

The photo above is shot by the brilliant professional photographer Iurie Belegurschi - his photos are out of this world. My amateur photos are below ;)

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

Hofskirkja turf church is located in the vicinity of Vatnajökull glacier ca 20 km south-east of Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park. 

There has been a church at Hof in Öræfi for 700 years and the first written records of a church being on this site are from a cartulary (an old medieval document) from 1343. The core of the current church was built in 1883-1885. Its walls are made of rock and the roof is made of stone slabs, covered with turf.

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

The interior of the church is panelled and painted in lovely colours. The church is divided into nave and choir and these two parts of the church are separated by a chancel screen. There is timber in the upper part of the choir gable and the front gable. 

Hofskirkja was built by the carpenter Páll Pálsson. Among the objects in the church are Danish tin candle-lights from the 16th or 17th century.

The church was dedicated to St. Clement back when Iceland was a Catholic country.

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

As I have mentioned earlier then Hofskirkja was the last church in Iceland to be built in this old traditional style. Horfskirkja was rebuilt in 1953-1954 by the National Museum of Iceland and reconsecrated in 1954.

Since this traditional turf church style was abandoned timber churches were erected in Iceland and later concrete churches. I adore these cute little turf churches and I am so glad that some of them were preserved as historical monuments. To me, they are pure gems.

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

But as they are so delicate and fragile they have to be preserved and that is why most of them are now closed to the public.

The maker of the hardware, lock and hinges was Þorsteinn Gissurarson, a blacksmith from Hof. Þorsteinn was a well-known blacksmith and got the nickname "tool" because of his profession.

You will find a water tub just outside the turf walls of the cemetery (south) where Þorsteinn tool used to cool his hot iron.

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

By the church, you will find a cemetery and in this cemetery, you will notice all the mounds, which look like big tussocks. These are the graves in the cemetery. 

You can see the mounds clearly on Iurie's photo at the beginning of my travel-blog.

Creeks from Mt. Hofsfjall were used to create electricity in the church.

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

Hofskirkja has belonged to the National Museum of Iceland since 1951 and the museum maintains the church.

This lovely turf church came into the possession of the National Museum of Iceland on the condition that the museum would rebuild and maintain it - and that it would still serve as the district's parish church. The turf church is now a part of the National Museum's Historic Buildings Collection.

Ring-road 1 wasn't opened until 1974 when the rivers on Skeiðarársandur sand plain were bridged. Until then the road didn't reach any further than Mt. Lómagnúpur in South-Iceland. Before 1974 the farm at Hof was isolated, but it is now by the ring-road and easily accessible.

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches
I have written separate travel-blogs on all the remaining turf churches in North-Iceland, f.ex. Saurbæjarkirkja turf church, which is the biggest turf church in Iceland, and Víðimýrarkirkja turf church, which is considered to be the most beautiful of the turf churches.  

On the website of Þjóðminjasafn Ísland - the National Museum of Iceland is written that this turf church is now closed to the public.

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

To reach this area you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive east. Hofskirkja is located about 88 km east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, take Hofsvegur road off ring-road 1, drive for five minutes, and you will find Hof, due south of Hvannadalshnjúkur, Iceland’s highest peak.

Here is the location of Hofskirkja church on the map.  GPS: 63°54'24.2"N 16°42'27.1"W

Hofskirkja Turf Church in Öræfi in South-East Iceland - the youngest of Iceland's Turf Churches

When planning your Iceland visit check out the many self-drive tours which include a car, accommodation and a detailed itinerary.

Have a lovely time in Iceland :)

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