Hólar in Hjaltadalur

Hólar is one of Iceland’s best-known historical sites. It was the seat of the Bishop from 1106-1801, as well as the main regional centre during that period. The current cathedral at Hólar was consecrated in 1763, and has since been restored to its original state. It is made of red sandstone that was transported from Hólabyrði above the town. A turf farmhouse dates from 1854, and was still occupied until the middle of the 20th century.

An agricultural school has been operated at Hólar since 1882. The school’s focus has changed over time and it is now an institution of higher learning. The Hólar University College specialises in tourism studies, horse breeding and riding, as well as aquaculture and fish biology.

Archaeological excavation has been underway at Hólar in recent years and over 40,000 objects have been discovered. Some of them are exhibited in the old school building.

Walk through history
Visitors can take a ”walk through history” on a marked trail, and visit an exhibition relating to the Icelandic horse. Hólar church, guided tour from 9-17.

 Hiking Path

A path marked with signposts has been set up at the ancient Episcopal see of Hólar in Hjaltadalur. Each of the 14 signposts is numbered, referring to a descriptive text in the tour-booklet. This historical tour takes an hour at an easy pace. The tour can be extended by going half-way up the slopes of Mt. Hólabyrði from Prestssæti (the Priest’s seat, signpost no. 11), which takes an hour or two, for a look at a natural bowl deposited by an avalanche. It is called Gvendarskál (Gvendur’s Bowl) and inside it stands a rock known as Gvendur’s Altar. Both are associated with 12th century Bishop Guðmundur Arason the Good (1160-1237), nicknamed Gvendur, who became a kind of vagrant leading a band of followers. The outline of an ancient wall can clearly be seen in the boulders below the bowl, said to be where the bishop walked when heavy snow filled the valley. Many ancient paths lead from Hjaltadalur and nearby valleys over the Tröllaskagi massif into the neighbouring Eyjafjörður, but hikers should note that they are all rather long, and some have difficult terrain.

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