Hellissandur and Rif

Hellissandur was once a major fishing centre and around 1700 it had 50-60 seasonal fishing lodges for migrant fishermen. The maritime museum at Hellissandur has displays that include Iceland’s oldest rowboat, built in 1826. Þurrabúð has been renovated there. Most of the village’s fishing fleet is now based at nearby Rif. A short distance from Rif is Ingjaldshólskirkja church, said to be the oldest concrete house of worship in the world, built in 1903. It contains relics from the 17th and 18th century. Ingjaldshóll has been a church site since 1317. The area between Hellissandur and Rif is a bird-lovers’ paradise and has one of the largest arctic tern nesting areas in Iceland. Seals can often be spotted at the Hellissandur beach.

Rif was one of the main trading ports on Snæfellsnes until its harbour was ruined when Hólmkelsá river changed its course. Improvements have since been made. One of Iceland’s largest merchants attacked and killed the governor of Iceland, Björn Þorleifsson (1408-1467), and seven other men in Rif. The rock where Björn is said to have been killed can still be seen.

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