The Last Turf Church In Iceland


Hof is a small village in southeast Iceland, approximately 350 miles west of Reykjavik. Like many Icelandic villages, houses here are roofed with turf, a practice that developed in Northern Europe as early as the Iron age. In order to protect themselves and their livestock from the harsh climate, the settlers constructed shelters using the trees to provide a framework and covering the frame with turf. Near the end of the 18th century, a new style developed, with the ends of the buildings made of wood, while turf covers the sides and roofs. Some of these buildings survived, and Hofskirkja Church is one such building. It was built in 1884 and was the last turf church built in the old architectural style. Its walls are thick and assembled with rocks to give stability as well as insulation, an important element to consider in the Icelandic climate. The roof is made of stone slabs and covered in turf. The church is maintained by the National Museum, but also serves as a parish church.