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  • Jul28

    Grafarkirkja, Akureyi, and Godafoss

    July 28 in Iceland ⋅ ☁️ 48 °F

    We were able to see Grafarkirkja in North Iceland today. It’s the oldest turf church in Iceland. Parts of the church date back to the 1600's, while the rest is from 1884. The black trim has an old Norse design that was carved by a well-known wood carver of the time, Guðmundur Guðmundsson. Back in the olden days, Icelanders used to live in turf houses and the churches were made of turf. Now only a handful of turf churches remain in Iceland. The wind was calm (and the midges didn't attack us) so I was able to use the drone. 🙂

    We then drove around the peninsula through Siglufjordur and into Akureyi for lunch. Akureyi is the second largest city in Iceland and it’s smaller than Olympia. 😳

    After lunch we drove to Godafoss on the Skjalfandafljot river. The name Goðafoss means either waterfall of the gods or waterfall of the 'goði' (i.e. priest/ chieftain). The reason for this is its fascinating history.

    When Iceland was first settled in the 9th and 10th Centuries, the vast majority (who were not slaves, at least) were Norwegians who followed the Old Norse religion, worshipping deities like Thor, Odin, Loki and Freya. However, after the Commonwealth was established in 930 AD, pressure to convert began to push from Christianizing Europe.

    By 1000 AD, it seemed that Norway would almost certainly invade if the country were to stand by their pagan beliefs. The issue was thus discussed at Þingvellir, where the parliament met once a year. The lawspeaker at the time, the Ásatrú priest (or goði) Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, was given the responsibility to make the decision.

    It is said he lay under a fur blanket for a day and a night in silence, praying to his Old Gods for the right decision. Eventually, he emerged and said, for the good of the people, Christianity would be the official religion, but pagans could practice in private. To symbolize his decision, he returned to his home in north Iceland and threw idols of the Old Gods into a beautiful waterfall. Since then, it would be known as Goðafoss.

    We are camped 10 minutes away from Godafoss in Laugar. Tomorrow, we head to the Mývatn.
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