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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Kirkjubæjarklaustur - Klaustur - small village


Kirkjubæjarklaustur school and swimming pool
Kirkjubæjarklaustur school and swimming pool

The small village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, or Klaustur (The Monastery), has only recently advanced from a cluster of houses to a level of the village or a hamlet. At least in a historical sense. It is one of the smallest villages in Iceland, with permanent residents all year round. For many reasons, this village has quite a different history than most towns and villages. It is not located on the shore but inland and has no access to the sea or fishing grounds. The village has one of the best climates in Iceland and fertile farms as neighbors. It is also neighbor to many natural wonders like Jökulsárlón, Fjaðrárgljúfur, and Lakagígar.


Kirkjubæjarklaustur is in the South Region on the map of Iceland
Kirkjubæjarklaustur is in the South Region on the map of Iceland

Kirkjubæjarklaustur got its name from Monasteries in Iceland's early history

Old houses at Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Old houses at Kirkjubæjarklaustur

According to the Book of Settlement, the farm was a Monastery as early as the ninth century. Around 1200, a nunnery was established and was in operation until 1550, when Iceland converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism. Many names of places around Klaustur are traced to the time the sisters lived in the nunnery.


In the center of the largest eruption in historical times

Kirkjubæjarklaustur village
Kirkjubæjarklaustur village

Kirkjubæjarklaustur has had its share of disasters and eruptions throughout the centuries, both from Katla and Laki. The chapel in the village was built in the seventies and honors the priest that served during the Skaftáreldar eruption at Laki. Legend has it that in times of despair, when the lava was destroying everything in its path, he held a mass and shouted with passion and anger as the glowing lava was expected to move to the church at any moment. The lava had taken another path when the people came out of the church. His sermon has ever since been named the Firemass and Jón Steingrímsson the Firepriest.


Kirkjubæjarklaustur remains one of the smallest villages in Iceland

Kirkjubæjarklaustur small church
Kirkjubæjarklaustur small church

In the seventies, the population started to grow as some governmental posts had been set up at Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Some services for the agricultural community had developed and a slaughterhouse was built. Today there is a primary and secondary school for children at Klaustur and surrounding rural communities. There is also good care for the elderly and a health center.


A peaceful community in a rural area in Iceland

Kirkjubæjarklaustur small store and bank
Kirkjubæjarklaustur small store and bank

In recent years, the village is developing into the tourist industry as it is a prime location to visit some natural wonders around Klaustur and in the highland. The community and neighboring areas have a variety of quality accommodations and a camping site.



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