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Christopher Columbus in Iceland

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Did you know Christopher Columbus stayed in Iceland for an entire winter? In 1477, he sailed to Iceland and stayed at the farm called Ingjaldshóll (Ingjaldshvóll). He undoubtedly learned about the settlement of Iceland, of the Vikings sailing to the New World, and about the travels of Leifur Eiríksson, Þorfinnur Karlsefni, Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir, the little baby Snorri, and the rest of those who had been in North America five centuries earlier.

Ingjaldshóll was abandoned in 1966 and is the property of the Icelandic government. Due to erosion, weather, and opportunities in nearby villages and towns, those who managed the farm chose other places to live. The church, Ingjaldshólskirkja, near Hellissandur, is one of the oldest concrete churches in the world. It was built in 1903 and is still used today for events such as concerts. Inside is a painting of Christopher Columbus and the local priest studying a map.

As in many places throughout Iceland, there are great tales and sagas about the people and the spirits of Ingjaldshóll. I will share just one shortened version of a story about Ingjaldur and Bárður, the protector of Snæfellsnes.

Bárður lived at the farm, Laugarbrekka. This is the same farm where the famous explorer, Guðríður, was born. I have written much about her before. Just click on this link to read more:

Laugarbrekka birthplace of Guðríður

In the Saga of Bárður Snæfellsás, a Troll Woman named Hetta stole some sheep from the farmer, Ingjaldur Alfarinsson. He caught her and was very mad. Hetta tried to make this up to Ingjaldur and told him about a special place to catch fish. He proceeded to the area and almost drowned in a horrible storm that Hetta intensified with sorcery. Ingjaldur begged the powerful spirit of Snæfellsnes, Bárður, to help him. Bárður helped Ingjaldur escape from certain death. Bárður was half-troll and half-man with his mother a human.

This huge statue is to signify Bárður, the Protector of Snæfellsnes built by the artist, Ragnar Kjartansson.

If you travel the Snæfellsnes peninsula, make sure you stop for the beautiful view over Breiðafjörður, the glacier called Snæfellsjökull, and Laugarbrekka. See the same sites as written about in the Sagas. See the are where Christopher Columbus stayed in 1477 and learned about sailing to the New World. And always remember:

You can learn more about Ingjaldur, Bárður, and all people connected to our Icelandic story in the Icelandic Roots Database. There are links to the sagas, photos, statues, and more depicting the almost 610,000 people from the sagas to modern day. We continue to grow the database every day. The most fun feature (in my opinion) is the Relationship Calculator. You can read about these interesting / famous people and then calculate your relationship to them.

Email us your questions or join the conversation on our Facebook Group.

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