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Exploring Iceland with the Abandoned Houses Project

Atlas Obscura’s Iceland Week is in partnership with Icelandair, who will fly you to this unreal wonderland for surprisingly cheap

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Dagverðará situated on Snæfellsnes on the western part of Iceland (all images courtesy Eyðibýli)

Dwarfed by the powerful landscapes, the abandoned farm houses of Iceland are easy to overlook among the mountains and fjords. Eyðibýli — a project to document these abandoned homes — was started in 2011 to help save these ruins from obscurity. 

The nonprofit’s mission is to ”to research and register the magnitude and cultural importance of every abandoned farm and other deserted residences in the rural areas of Iceland.” They started in the south of the county and most recently covered the northwest in a journey to photograph these abandoned houses and interview locals about the areas’ heritage.

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Thorstisenbraggi, situated in Ingólfsfjörður on the West Fjords

The results of this research are published in a series of publications called Eyðibýli á Íslandi. The fourth and fifth books in the series, which are rich with haunting photographs of the homes in the sweeping settings, were published in 2013. The main organizations behind Eyðibýli are R3-Consultancy, Gláma-Kím architects, and the Stapi Geology Consultancy, with collaborators including engineering, architecture, and archaeology students at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, the University of Iceland, and Institute of Archaeology, as well as the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland and the National Archives of Iceland. 

The register of Eyðibýli, which has now covered over 550 houses, isn’t just to capture the desolate beauty of these abandoned farms. It’s also to have a record of the architecture and culture of a place, where the structures represent the evolution of building styles, and the people who once lived in these isolated terrains. Around 60% of Iceland’s population is consolidated in Reykjavík, but the history of the country’s people extends beyond its capital into its rural communities. 

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Ytri-Hjarðardalur, situated in Önundarfjörður on the West Fjords

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Stapadalur, situated in Stapadalur on West Fjords

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Hamrar, situated on Mýrar in the western part of Iceland

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Grundarhóll, situated in Norðurþing, in the northeastern part of Iceland

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Brimnes situated in Skagafjörður on Northwestern part of Iceland

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Berlind situated in Skagafjörður on Northwestern part of Iceland

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Arnarnes situated in Dýrafjörður on Vestfirðir (West Fjords)


Atlas Obscura’s Iceland Week is in partnership with Icelandair, who will fly you to this unreal wonderland for surprisingly cheap