Hverageroi was perhaps the least interesting part of the Golden Circle tour for me, although it was a nice place to stop and grab an ice cream. It is a small town about 45 km east of Reykjavik and was our last stop in the afternoon before heading back to our hotels. The town has a population of about 1700 people and is located on some of the most geothermally active land in Iceland. It is also famous for its many greenhouses which supply much of Iceland's fruit and vegetable production. The greenhouses are heated hot water from volcanic hot springs and the people here are proud of the variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables that they are able to produce. Amazing as it sounds, tropical fruits can be produced here and tulips were once shipped to Holland from here!
On the drive into town, our tour guide pointed out a hole in the ground that once held a family's The family was lucky enough to escape just before the volcanic earth swallowed their home, but incredibly they rebuilt their house literally less than 10 meters away right next to the huge whole.
We visited the Eden greenhouse, which has an impressive array of flowers, but seemed to be much more aimed at tourists, with a fully stocked gift shop and some food shops. I sampled some ice cream which was supposed to be the best ice cream in Iceland, but I thought it was pretty average.
Around the church at Skálholt, you'll see some archeological digs as well as a monument on the spot where the last catholic bishop of Iceland, Jón Arason and his two sons were beheaded for their opposition to the Reformation.
Below the church, in the crypt, there is a free museum with artefacts dug up over the years including tombs of bishops, but many of the items are now in the National Museum in Reykjavik. The first book ever printed in the Icelandic language was also made here in Skálholt and there is a collection of historic texts kept in the church tower.
The first church in Skálholt was built in around the year 1000 A.D. and the site has been historically and religiously important in Iceland since then. That was the same year the Christianity become the official religion of Iceland and the first bishop was Ísleifur Gissurarson, who was one of the most educated men in the county. Isleifur lived here in Skálholt because it was the manor that was left to him by his father. He built a school for priests here and donated Skálholt to the people of Iceland. At one point in the 11th century, this was the biggest town in the country Then, in the 12th century bishop Klængur Þorsteinsson built a much larger cathedral at Skálholt, constructed of wood shipped from Norway. For the next few hundred years, Skálholt was an important cultural and educational center in Iceland. This ended in 1550, when Jón Arason, the last catholic bishop of Iceland was executed at Skálholt for opposing the Reformation that was being imposed on the country by the Danish King Christian III. From then on, Iceland was officially Lutheran.
The new church that you see here was built between 1956 and 1963 and is a fairly simple structure, but has some beautiful stained glass windows and an interesting mural of Christ above the front altar.
Kerið Volcanic Crater
Just after leaving Þingvellir National Park we visit an impressive 55 meter deep volcanic crater known as Kerið (Kerid, in English). It was very cold and windy, so we didn't do much more than hop out of the bus and walk around for 10 minutes or so taking pictures. Kerid is what's known as an implosion crater (or caldera) and was formed by volcanic activity around 6500 years ago.
Our guide told us that there is another crater near here and that for some unexplained reason, when the water level increases in Kerid, it decreases in the other crater and when it decreases in Kerid, it increases in the other crater as if the two were linked by some underground channel. This however, is not the case and as a result, there is a legend that a monster lives in the crater and that he travels in tunnels below the ground between the two craters. When he is present in one crater, the water level increases and when he leaves the crater to go the other one, the water level goes down.
I didn't see any monsters.