Many of you probably were thrilled to bits when you saw the charming cottages inhabited by the hobbits of Shire. For sure they must be alluring not only for the fans of ‘Lord of the Rings’. In Iceland, there is a chance to see similar structures, which have the same charm and are perfectly integrated with the surrounding nature. What’s more, they will nourish your imagination in the same way. These are Icelandic turf houses. You don’t have to be a hobbit to live like this. Icelanders started to build them because of the lack of wood on the island. Long long time ago Iceland was covered by lush birch forests, but then they suddenly disappeared. Its inhabitants used their wooden goodness so extensively and carelessly, for example building lots of boats, then later the trees just vanished. So they were left with nothing, not even the smallest beam of this precious material.
To escape the frantic, unbelievably moody weather, they had to start creating shelters made of what they had at their fingertips. What they had in abundance, were turf, stones and grass, so in Iceland like mushrooms after the rain started to swarm little huts. The whole nation immediately appreciated their remarkable properties because they protected against hostile conditions like nothing else before. There was even no need to worry about repairing them – they were nearly indestructible. Icelanders finally had a shelter, which protected them against relentless wind or wild snowstorm known of flipping people like matches – their houses stood in perfect condition winter after winter.
Inside the turf houses it was quite dark and Icelanders who have always believed in the presence of ghosts, elves and trolls felt a bit anxious. In the dark corners of the houses, clumps of grass casted strange, ominous shadows. The result of that were constant goose pimples on their bodies. Poor Icelanders were shivering for the long ages, but they didn’t want to leave. Probably they had to love this thrill.
While travelling in Iceland, you will definitely come across these structures. Some of them are situated right next to the Ring Road, others not so far away from it. One of them is Bustarfell near Vopnafjörður in the eastern part of Iceland. What’s interesting, is the fact that the same family lived here for four centuries. In the first part of the 20th century they still lived in a turf house. They left this place in 1943 when they sold the building to the Icelandic state with a plan to establish there a museum. Then the family moved, but not so far away. They live nearby with a view on this fairy, grassy kingdom.
We are so enchanted by the turf houses. They have this incredible fairy-tale charm, which we simply love. If you haven’t seen them, you definitely have to add them to your bucket list. Who wouldn’t want to enter the world of a fairy-tale for a while?