Thingeyrarkirkja church is an impressive and extraordinary church overlooking Lake Hóp, the fifth largest lake in Iceland, east of the Vatnsnes Peninsula. It took 13 years to build and was ready in the year 1877.

Thingeyrarkirkja church stands on a small hill, visible for miles. It’s beautiful and well worth the stop. At Thingeyrar stood a monastery in the middle ages.

The church is unusual for the late 19th century. Churches at that time were typically sided with corrugated iron.

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Instead, Thingeyrarkirkja was constructed from hewn basalt and limestone, a very pricey undertaking. The interior is also unusual. It has a deep, broad apse that encircles everything in front of the pews – markedly different from the rectangular Icelandic norm. The church’s half domed dark blue ceiling has about a thousand gold stars mounted on it. Several pieces inside the church are historically significant, including the altarpiece, originating in Nottingham in the 15th century.

The monastery at Thingeyri

Many Icelanders consider Thingeyrarkirkja to be amongst the most beautiful churches in Iceland. It’s one of the few churches built with local stone and it took 13 years. Thingeyri was also the site of Iceland’s first monastery. Bishop Jon Ogmundsson established the monastery in 1133, who was of Benedictine order. Thingeyrarklaustur monastery was quite wealthy and stood quite long. The monastery closed in the year 1550 due to the Reformation in Iceland.

The monks at the monastery played an important role in Iceland’s literature history. The monks wrote many of the Icelandic sagas and created beautiful parchments. The sagas tell the story of the Vikings who settled in Iceland.

Check out our complete guide to travelling in North Iceland.