Information about Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Sisters Rock, at Klaustur in South Iceland.Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir

Kirkjubæjarklaustur (referred to locally as ‘Klaustur’) is a village of approximately 120 inhabitants in the Skaftárhreppur municipality of south of Iceland.

Situated by the Ring Road, approximately 250 km (155 miles) east of Reykjavík, Klaustur is one of the few villages providing amenities such as fuel, shops, a bank and a supermarket between Vík í Mýrdal and Höfn.

History

The history of Kirkjubæjarklaustur differs, in many respects, to the traditional Icelandic settlement. “Papar”, the Icelandic title for travelling Irish monks, were thought to have settled the area long before the Norsemen.

In that tradition, it was claimed that pagans of no kind would set foot in Klaustur; this was a strictly Christian area.

Stories have permeated, with one telling of a pagan, Hildir Eysteinsson, who attempted to move there in the 10th Century. Upon setting foot across the border, he fell instantly dead and was buried on the neighbouring hill, Hildishaugur (“Hildir’s Mound.”)

Despite twisting the tongue, the full village name 'Kirkju-bæjar-klaustur' actually tells the story of the area well; 'Kirkju' means church, 'bæjar' means farm and 'klaustur' means convent.

The word 'Klaustur' was added to the original name 'Kirkjubær' in 1186 AD when a convent of Benedictine nuns settled there.

In the 364 years leading to the Reformation in 1550 AD, Klaustur did much for the oral history of south Iceland. Systrastapi (Sister’s Rock), the Systrafoss waterfall and lake Systravatn all take their names from the nun’s settlement.

Folklore

The Sisters Falls, at Klaustur in South Iceland.Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir

The folklore relating to these sites are rich in tales of religious heresy, superstition and death.

Sister’s Rock, for instance, has been said to be the burial site of two nuns executed for sinful behaviour. The nuns were accused of all sorts of behaviour, including selling their soul to the devil, removing communion bread from church, carnal knowledge with men, and blasphemy toward the pope.

Guilty or not, the nuns were swiftly burnt at the stake.

Following the Reformation, one of the nuns was vindicated for her actions, and it is said that flowers soon bloomed on top of her grave. The other’s grave has remained barren, a continuing reminder of the lady’s ethereal disapproval.

Nearby attractions

Despite its petite size, Klaustur is an important crossroads to the attractions nestled at the centre of the island, namely the Laki Craters in Vatnajökull National Park and the Landmannalaugar hiking trails in the scenic Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Only a few kilometres from the village itself lies the spectacular Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon.

A short walk east of Kirkjubæjarlaustur will take you to the fascinating Kirkjugólfið “Church Floor”, an 80 square metre flat of basalt columns, shaped and formed naturally by tide and glacial melts. The aforementioned Sisters Rocks and Sisters Waterfalls can be walked to from the village as well.

These three sites are little known of, so should be visited by those avoiding the crowds.

Due to its location on the South Coast, Klaustur is visited or passed through by those travelling to the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Skaftafell Nature Reserve or ice caves, or those encircling the whole country.

 

Services near Kirkjubæjarklaustur

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Attractions nearby Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Systrastapi

Systrastapi (“Sister’s Rock”) is a historical rock hill and natural attraction west of the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, in ...

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Fjaðrárgljúfur

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a beautiful, dramatic canyon in South Iceland, close to the historic town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Fjað...

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Foss a Síðu

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Debivort. Foss á Síðu is a historic farm in southeast Iceland, renowned for its folkl...

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Fagrifoss

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Nave111. Fagrifoss (the Beautiful Waterfall) is located in southeast Iceland near the Lakagígar ...

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Eldhraun

The vast Eldhraun lava field (“Fire Lava“), in the south of the Icelandic highlands was created in one of the greatest eruptions in reco...

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Katla Geopark

Katla Global Geopark is a project of UNESCO and the European Geoparks Network, with the aims of promoting sustainable development and protecting the...

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Lakagígar

Lakagígar, in the south of the Icelandic highlands, is a row of craters, formed during one of the largest eruptions in recorded history, k...

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Lomagnupur

Mt. Lómagnúpur is, very arguably, one of Iceland’s most recognisable mountains, with its proud and dramatic cliff faces, flat, gar...

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Eldgjá

  Eldgja is the largest volcanic canyon in the world, 270m deep, 600m at its widest and around 40 km long.  The canyon lies paralel with t...

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Uxatindar

Uxatindar is a mountain peak in the southern highlands which stands 642 metres above sea level. It is green with moss throughout summer and is ...

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Sveinstindur

  Photo from Four-day Highland Hiking Tour | Volcanic Trail Part 1 Sveinstindur is a 1093 m (3408 ft) high mountain in Iceland's Centr...

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Strútslaug

Strutslaug (also known as Holmsarbotnalaug) is a geothermal pool in the South Highlands, north of Myrdalsjokull glacier and close to Torfajokull glaci...

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Breiðbakur

Breidbakur, in the Icelandic highlands, is a mountain west of Langisjor lake and near Vatnajokull glacier. The scenery in this area is magnificent. ...

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Langisjór

  Langisjor is among the clearest highland lakes in the country. Its altitude is 670 meters and at its deepest it’s 75 meters. The l...

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Myrdalssandur

Mýrdalssandur is an outwash plain located between the rivers of Kúðafljót, in the east, and Múlakvísl, in the w...

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South Iceland

South Iceland is the most popular part of the country amongst travellers and contains some of Iceland’s most beautiful natural attractions. A...

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Þakgil

Photo from: Þakgil and Remundargil Canyons - Beautiful Hidden Gems in South-Iceland. Þakgil ('Roof Canyon') is a hidden cany...

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Veiðivötn

Veiðivötn is an area of over 50 small fishing lakes, situated north-east of Friðland að Fjallabaki and Landmannalaugar. The ov...

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Ofaerufoss

Ofaerufoss is a highly beautiful waterfall in the volcanic chasm Eldgja in Southeast Iceland. The Eldgja chasm, belongs to the same volcanic system as...

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Katla

Katla is one of Iceland’s most explosive volcanoes, located underneath Iceland’s fourth largest ice cap, Mýrdalsjökull. Sinc...

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