Þingeyrakirkja church is in my opinion one of the most beautiful churches in Iceland. It is located at Þingeyrar in North-Iceland by Húnafjörður bay.
Þingeyrakirkja church was consecrated in 1877 and is one of Iceland´s few stone churches. The stone in the church was found in the Ásbjarnarnesbjörg, 8 km away from the church.
The walls of the stone church are ca 1 meters thick. It is so beautiful on the inside as well. It is well known for its ceiling, which is blue painted with ca 1000 golden stars.
I came here especially with my mother to have a look at the stars in the ceiling, but we were in awe when we saw the other beautiful artefacts in the church. Most of our churches are Lutheran churches and they are not very ornate compared to other churches.
Matching with the number of stars in the beautiful ceiling are the windowpanes.
The altarpiece is the oldest artefact in the church, dating back to the 14th century. This is the only artefact left in the church from the Catholic period.
The pulpit is from the Netherlands and was donated to the church in 1696 by Lauritz Gottrup, who also donated several other beautiful artefacts to the church.
At Þingeyrar the first monastery in Iceland was erected in 1133. It stood here until the Reformation in 1550. Þingeyraklaustur monastery was well known for its literature, which was written down on parchment in the years 1100-1300. Here many of the Sagas were written, but the Icelandic Sagas tell the story of the Vikings in Iceland.
The Bishop at Hólar, Jón Ögmundarson, 1106-1121, made a pledge that he would erect a church and a manor here if the famine in Iceland would stop. The famine stopped and the bishop kept his promise.
At Þingeyrar one of the biggest manors in Iceland was erected, where Chieftains resided. So this was quite an important place in Iceland.
Here in Vatnsdalur valley the Vatnsdæla Saga took place. Vatnsdæla Saga was most probably written in 1270 in the monastery at Þingeyrar and tells the story of the Vikings living in this part of Iceland.
Þingeyrar derives its name from "Þing-" meaning Parliament, as legislative assemblies were held here in Húnaþing during the Commonwealth Period from 930-1264.
By Þingeyrakirkja church you will find a Visitor Centre, called Klausturstofa. It is built in the liking of Þingeyrakirkja church, out of stone and complements the church - very well made. At the Visitor Centre you can get get guidance to the church for a small fee.
On the walls of the Visitor Centre are drawings from the Saga, which took place here in Vatnsdalur valley, Vatnsdæla Saga. I bought here a very good map, the Vatnsdæla Saga Heritage Map.
At the Visitor Centre you will find a replica of Flateyjarbók, the Flatey Book, which is the largest and most impressive of all Icelandic manuscript dating back to the Middle Ages, written in ca 1387-1394. It mostly tells the story of the Norwegian kings.
The Visitor Centre at Þingeyrar and Þingeyrakirkja church are open in summer time from June 1st - August 31st from 10:00-17:00.
To visit Þingeyrakirkja church coming from Reykjavík you can rent a car and drive north on ring-road one, turn left on road 721 and drive for ca 6 km. It is midway between the towns Blönduós and Hvammstangi and can be seen from the road in the distance.
You can also include it in one of the summer self-drive tours, which include a car, accommodation and a detailed itinerary.
Too many people drive by without knowing about this extraordinary church. I find this church to be one of the most beautiful churches in Iceland, so making the short detour from ring-road 1 to have a look at this historical church is well worth it.