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Geirsstadakirkja Turf-roofed Church

Geirsstadakirkja Turf Church (spelled Geirsstaðakirkja in Icelandic), located in East Iceland, is a replica of a turf-roof church common in the traditional architecture of Iceland. 


If you are interested in exploring the history of Iceland and checking out Viking ruins, consider booking a self-drive tour package and heading east to visit Geirsstadakirkja Turf Church. Self-drive tours allow you to explore Iceland at your own pace and fill your itinerary with attractions that interest you, such as those along the famous Ring Road.


Built on the ruins of a Viking turf church in the Geirsstadir area, this historic site is over 1000 years old. An archeological dig unearthed a farmstead, a long-house, two small structures, and a traditional turf and wood church foundation.


The Geirsstadakirkja Church was rebuilt and replicated in the late 1990s following the discovery of the archaeological site. Today it’s a must-see for visitors interested in local Viking history.


Photo from The beautiful Geirsstaðakirkja Turf Church in East-Iceland - a Replica of an old Turf Church


​Turf Churches

Turf churches in Iceland are important historical features. The Vikings that settled Iceland built Geirsstadakirkja and other structures out of wood, stone, and turf. The turf’s effect is that the church looks like a natural part of the hill or landscape. Turf houses often have grass and other flora growing all over them.

History of Geirsstadakirkja and Turf Churches

Turf structures like the turf farm and the turf church were popular forms of architecture in historical Iceland. Today, only five original turf churches still stand without any rebuilding efforts.


Using turf in ancient structures protected them from the harsh Icelandic elements. It was a standard building method until the 20th century because, while it was pretty labor intensive, it didn’t require the purchase of expensive building supplies. Most remaining authentic turf churches are under protection as cultural heritage sites. 


Geirsstadakirkja Church received funding from a few Icelandic cultural organizations that saw this East Iceland attraction’s historical and cultural value. It might have been home to Hroar, the son of a well-known Viking figure. 


If you are curious about the early history of Iceland, visiting this turf church replica is an excellent opportunity to explore how Vikings used to live.

How to Get to Geirsstadakirkja Turf Church

Giersstadakirkja Turf Church is 20 miles (32.1 kilometers) from Egilsstadir, a town in East Iceland. To reach Egilsstadir, tourists can drive from Keflavik International Airport or may take a connecting domestic flight to Egilsstadir’s smaller airport.


Flights to Egilsstadir from Keflavik are only one hour. By car, Egilsstadir is 420 miles (676 kilometers) from Keflavik and 395 miles (636 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

Nearby Attractions

The town of Egilsstadir and the Giersstadakirkja Turf Church are fantastic additions to a Ring Road tour that includes exploring South Iceland, North Iceland, and West Iceland. Consider a self-drive Ring Road tour or peruse top East Iceland attractions to plan the perfect itinerary.


In addition to the Viking turf church, Egilsstadir is also close to the Eastfjords. A fjord is an ocean inlet between high cliffs and often supports smaller fishing villages within the breathtaking landscape. 


Travelers often overlook the Eastfjords in East Iceland, but this quiet region is just as beautiful and benefits from the lack of crowds. Attractions such as Lake Lagarfljot, Hengifoss waterfall, and the relaxing Vok Baths are fantastic additions to your Eastfjord tour. 


If you are interested in exploring the cultural and historical sites in Iceland that are slightly off the beaten track, include Geirsstadakirkja Turf Church as you explore the Eastfjords. Check out our self-drive tours to ensure you don’t miss this important historical site.
 

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