I want to tell you about a beautiful area of Iceland that is often overseen by visitors. It is called Melrakkaslétta peninsula and is located in North-East Iceland, right above a very popular area in the North, Jökulsárgljúfur glacial canyon, where my favourite spot in Iceland, Ásbyrgi canyon, is located and many more of the Jewels of the North.
In August 2014 I went on a 3-week-tour around Iceland and visited areas of Iceland which I hadn't seen since I was a teenager, f.ex. Raufarhöfn village, where we stayed for 2 nights in a beautiful guesthouse, called Guesthouse Hreiðrið - Nest. We found the name to be so inviting and we got a beautiful apartment with a kitchen, which was like a suite and had a lovely stay there, true to the name of this guesthouse.
During our stay at the guesthouse we got a great deal of information on Melrakkaslétta peninsula from the very knowledgeable Halldóra, who both works at the guesthouse and is the Project Manager for the Norðurhjari project, which is the Tourist Association in North-East Iceland. We are very grateful to her as she pointed us to some very interesting and beautiful places in this area.
Raufarhöfn village is situated on the east side of Melrakkaslétta peninsula and is one of only 2 villages on the peninsula, the other one being Kópasker village, situated on the west side of Melrakkaslétta.
Raufarhöfn village is the northern most village in Iceland, a beautiful little village, with ca 166 inhabitants and a natural harbour.
Raufarhöfn is situated very close to the Arctic Circle (66°27.26′N 15°56.06′W) and has thus been called the Arctic Circle Village. Being situated so far up north, then the inhabitants of Raufarhöfn experience the longest summer nights and the darkest winter days.
On our visit to both Raufarhöfn and Kópasker villages we came across some fun characters made by the artist Sigurlína J. Jóhannesdóttir. She lives at a farm just outside of Kópasker village, and I will show you more of her funny characters in my blog on the west side of Melrakkaslétta peninsula. I love artwork like this and took a lot of photos with me next to them ;)
The photo above is in Raufarhöfn village and is a miniature version of the Arctic Henge, which can actually be seen in the distance, right above my head. And the one below is also in Raufarhöfn village.
The first landscape we encountered when we drove up to the peninsula on our way to Raufarhöfn village was the vast, flat prairie of Melrakkaslétta. One can see strange lava formations on the prairie, some of which look like there are people standing on the prairie in the distance. I had to stop many times just to get out of the car and take photos of these lava formations.
I felt like I was alone in the world, we were there late at night and could just stop the car in the middle of the road and take photos, surrounded by this vast flat landscape with lava formations, which were lit up by the sunshine. It was ever so beautiful.
I had seen photos of a new structure in Raufarhöfn, which is called the Arctic Henge, Heimskautsgerðið in Icelandic, and I was drawn to see it with my own eyes. And I was not disappointed by my visit, I was in awe of the beauty of the Arctic Henge and the peninsula.
There was so much I saw that I want to introduce to you, that I will be adding several articles about this remote place in Iceland.
We got settled in our room and went to look for the Arctic Henge, which is situated on a hill by Raufarhöfn village - I was very eager to see it and didn't want to wait until next morning to visit it. It is a massive structure, made out of basalt columns. It is not finished yet, but the 3 gates (out of 4) and the massive column in the middle, that have already been erected, were enough to blow my mind.
Work started on the Arctic Henge in 2004 and it has now become the biggest attraction on Melrakkaslétta.
The idea behind the Arctic Henge is to harness the Midnight Sun by the Arctic Circle. There is unrestricted view in all directions from the hill on which the Arctic Henge stands. And I can tell you that it is awesome seeing the sun shining through it. And it makes for very impressive photo opportunities.
The instigator for the Arctic Henge was the hotel manager of Hotel Norðurljós, Erlingur Thoroddsen, who sadly died in December 2015. The artist Haukur Halldórsson designed the Arctic Henge.
The idea for the Arctic Henge derives from Norse Mythology - from the best known Edda poem Völuspá - The Prophecy of the Seeress. This is the old belief of the Vikings, called Ásatrú in Icelandic. When the Arctic Henge will be finished it will be 52 meters in diameter with an 8-metre high column with a crystal on the top, which will light up the Arctic Henge.
And there will be a Dwarf Path with 72 stones, each one of the stones will be representing a dwarf's name.
This will be quite something! It reminds me of Stonehenge and it will also serve as a giant sundial. Just one thing, do not climb on these rocks - doing so is both disrespectful and dangerous!
After exploring the Arctic Henge for the first time - we went up there 3 times in different light - we had a good night sleep at our lovely Guesthouse Hreiðrið - Nest and looked forward to a full day of exploring Melrakkaslétta plain the next day - and to cross the Arctic Circle.
From road 85 turn onto road 874 for Raufarhöfn and Melrakkaslétta. The Arctic Henge is located on the north side of the village Raufarhöfn.
Here you can see the location of Raufarhöfn and the Arctic Henge on the map. GPS: 66°27'43.0"N 15°57'46.9"W.
Raufarhöfn is located some 602 km away from Reykjavík if you drive the clock-wise circle. I drove the anti-clockwise circle when I visited Raufarhöfn. You can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive up there in a couple of days. There are many beautiful stops on the way so do take your time and make the most of your Iceland visit :)