Icelandic History of the Supernatural
The Westfjords are the most remote area in Iceland. Perhaps therefore they hold especially many stories about the supernatural. As well as having breathtaking scenery, towering mountains and narrow fjords with waterfalls such as Dynjandi and beaches such as Rauðisandur, the Westfjords have historical supernatural museums and artwork to choose from.
Being lost in the peculiar landscape in Iceland, especially at night, can unleash people’s imagination. With the Northern Lights dancing overhead and steam rising from the ground, suddenly the birds sound like wailing ghosts and the rocks resemble spooky figures...
Modern Magic in the Westfjords
Even though the Westfjords are the most remote area in Iceland, surprisingly you can still find technology being implemented into its nature. Recently there has been an app made especially for travellers going around the Westfjords called Galdrastafir (‘Magical Staves’ – ancient Icelandic magical symbols).
This app enables you to go to locations in the Westfjords where modern day magic symbols have been placed (QR codes). By scanning the codes you can unlock a piece of art that has been created by a local artist.
Many great artists come from the Westfjords, such as Mugison and Svavar Knútur (beloved singers). By traveling around the region where they grew up the travellers get an exclusive insight into their creative minds and their take on the nature, myths and arts of their home.
And then you can travel to the next destination and collect another artwork… Just try not to get lost and let your imagination run wild!
This way tourists (and locals) can travel around the Westfjords collecting artwork puzzle pieces, each inspired by its surroundings and history.
Myths and Magic of the Westfjords
If technology is not your thing then not to worry, you can also escape it completely by hiking to Hornstrandir, where there are no roads or population, only majestic bird cliffs and fantastic hiking paths. You can actually feel like you are the only person in the world - unless you come across some hidden people or trolls.
Icelanders have a long history of believing in elves and trolls and having many stories about the supernatural. There are endless stories about ghosts and one type of sorcery or another.
There are dozens of rock formations that resemble people or animals all over Iceland. All of them come with a story. One story from the Westfjords is that all of the islands on Breiðafjörður are said to have been dug out by a troll female and male, they are now named Drangar. The female's bull (Uxi) is nearby, next to the small island Grímsey, seen from Drangsnes.
You'll need to head out there yourself to witness the power of imagination when there's not a person in sight but only towering and haunting landscape.
Text by Nanna Gunnarsdóttir