Saurbæjarkirkja Turf Church


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Saurbæjarkirkja turf church is a gem located in Eyjafjörður fjord in North-Iceland. Eyjafjörður is Iceland’s longest fjord. You would find Saurbæjarkirkja turf church in the innermost part of the bay. The tiny grass-covered structure is some 30 kilometers south of the capital of North-Iceland, Akureyri. Reverend Einar Thorlacius erected this tiny structure in 1858. The famous carpenter of the times, Ólafur Briem, constructed it. A fun fact is that all the churches in Iceland were turf churches until the middle of the 19th century. Later timber and cement were used as building materials.

Saurbæjarkirkja turf church

The Structure of Saurbæjarkirkja Church

There are only six turf churches left in Iceland and Saurbæjarkirkja is one of them. This one is the largest of all original turf churches in the country. The historic church is under the protection of the National Museum of Iceland. Turf, rock, and wood are mostly the components of Saurbæjarkirkja Church but the visitors are bound to feel that it is a timber church once they enter inside it as the insides are fitted with wood paneling.

The stunning structure can host almost 60 people. It is well-maintained and emits the ancient charm, giving a peek into how religious places were used to be in pre-modern times. A well-built crypt was constructed in Saurbæjarkirkja in 1960. Eventually, in 2003, the church was rebuilt. There are a few sources available on a convent that was founded here around the year 1200.

Most of the turf churches in Iceland are closed to visitors. Although, you can get the key to Saurbærjarkirkja Church from the farmer family living nearby. During the summertime, you can get the key at the Smánunasafnið Museum below the church. There are chances that you might not be able to see the church from the inside, depending upon when you visit the place. It is advised to walk lightly inside the turf churches as these are worn-out structures, which are to be preserved. You will be amazed to know that there are no bell towers in turf churches. The bells generally hang from the front gable, while some of them also have lychgates. The bells of this turf church also hang from the front gable.

Saurbæjarkirkja turf church is at a distance of 409 km from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavík. To drive up to Saurbærjarkirkja Church, you can rent a car from Reykjavík or at the International Airport. Alternatively, you can also take a flight to Akureyri and rent a car there. The church is close to another historic gem in the area, Grundarkirkja church. It is situated on the right-hand side of road 821.

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Things to Explore around the Church

The country is peppered with historic places such as Saurbæjarkirkja Turf Church. The church is in the midst of the vast green landscape. In the summertime, you can take along a book to read under the sunlight. Smámunasafnið Museum is another notable place in the vicinity.

Saurbæjarkirkja Turf Church on a map

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