Hjaltadalur Things to Do
Nýibær turf-house at Hólar in...
At Hólar there is a lovely turf-house called Nýibær or "New Farm" erected in 1860. It is called New Farm as the old farm was still there when the new farm was raised. People lived in the turf-house until 1945.
Nýibær turf-farm is now in the index of archaeological sites and relics and has belonged to the National Museum of Iceland since 1958. It is open and admission is free. But it is different from other turf-houses which are now museums in Iceland in that it is empty, and the turf-house itself is the show-piece. And it is a beautiful show-piece, both inside and out. It is especially interesting walking around it, seeing the small windows in what seems to be only a grass-mound. The turf-farms only look like houses from the front - they are totally different from the side and from the back - see my photos.
There are not many turf-houses left in Iceland, the main ones are scattered around the country: 1 in Reykjavík, 3 in South-Iceland, 2 in East-Iceland, 7 in North-Iceland and none in West-Iceland. Then there are parts of turf-houses and outhouses left in some parts in Iceland. These turf-houses are Iceland's architectural and national heritage and I am glad that some of them were preserved. The major part of the Icelandic nation lived in turf-houses with the last inhabitants moving out of the turf-houses around 1966.
Have I mentioned that I find turf-houses so cute, but I must stress that it must not have been easy living in a turf-house.
Nýibær is now called Gamlibær or the old turf-house.
Hólar in Hjaltadalur.
Hólar in Hjaltadalur is such a special place in Iceland and one of the best known historical sites here and is very dear to us Icelanders. To me it is one of the most special places in Iceland :D And very welcoming, the sign by the road says "Velkomin heim að Hólum" or Welcome home to Hólar :)
For ca 700 years Hólar used to be the capital of the north until Akureyri got that title. From 1106-1801 Hólar was the one of 2 bishopric in Iceland - The Northern bishopric and the educational capital of the north. The University at Hólar has been operating since 1882.
What you can see at Hólar is Hólakirkja Cathedral from 1763 (see my next tip), Nýibær turf-house 1854 (see my tip) and Auðun's log-house (see my tip). And there are concerts in the Cathedral on every Sunday at 14:00.
And there are lovely walks here and a lot of things to see. One of the walk takes you up the mountain to Gvendarskál, where Guðmundur góði Arason, who was bishop at Hólar in 1203-1237, used to go every day and pray. On the top of the mountain is an altar and a guestbook. I walked up to the mountain, but didn't get to the altar. It is a relatively easy walk but when you reach the top it gets rocky and on the top it is rocky and a relatively long walk to the altar. See one of my photos from top of Gvendarskál.
At Hólar there are lovely small houses for rent, I stayed there 2 nights in 2010 and again in 2013, see my tips under accommodation here. There is also a good campsite in the woods.
The population of Hólar is ca 100 people but in the winter-time ca 200. The University specializes in horse-breeding og horse-riding, fish-farming and fish-biology, and tourism. There are a lot of student housing at Hólar.
You will see signs of dig by the church and on the other side of the road and more than 40.000 artefacts have been found! Some of them are on display in the main building.
In the main-building there is an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant which is open from 7:30-22:00. In the main building is an exhibition on the past bishops at Hólar.
I always visit Hólar while in this area, this historical place is very special to me.
Gvendarbrunnur - fountain.
Gvendarbrunnur is a well named after Bishop Guðmundur góði Arason - Guðmundur the Good Arason. "Gvendur" is a nick name for the Icelandic male name Guðmundur.
There is one well called Gvendarbrunnur at Hólar. And more in other places in Iceland. They are said to have healing powers as Guðmundur góði Arason blessed them. We Icelanders have great respect for these wells named after Bishop Guðmundur and I always visit them on my travels in Iceland.
The water reserve for Reykjavik in Heiðmörk is also called Gvendarbrunnar.
Gvendarbrunnur at Hólar was reconstructed in the 1950s.