Búðakirkja – Iceland - Atlas Obscura


This black church sits alone among a field of lava rock. 


On the south coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, there’s a village with only a hotel and a tiny black church called the Búðakirkja.

On paper, the hamlet of Búðir doesn’t sound like much, especially when compared to Snæfellsjökull, the dormant ice-capped volcano looming nearby, but what Búðir lacks in infrastructure it more makes up for in its surreal, dreamlike landscape, epitomized the singular Búðakirkja.

Búðir sits within the Búðahraun lava field, an expansive environment of torn-up earth that has grown over with grassy flora. One could easily imagine creatures from fairy tales living amongst the jagged rock formations and in the deep holes that have formed here. Visitors can walk along the fields and down to the coastline along trails that look and feel unending. In the summer months, the peculiar “drumming” calls of the Common Snipe can sometimes be heard, which only adds to the unreal feeling about the place. 

The first Búðakirkja was built on the spot in 1703, but was eventually deconstructed due to the area lack of parishioners. The current church was reconstructed in 1987 after a single member of the church lobbied to have the chapel brought back. It has a historic graveyard as well as relics such as a bell and chalice from the time the church was first erected. However its pure black paint job and isolated location are the real attraction to the site. 

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