Church number 2003

-18.15057E, 65.50182N

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XIX, Iceland

Saurbær has been a church site for a long time. Documentation says that around year 1200 it was also the site of a monastery for a few decades. Catholic churches there were dedicated to St. Cecilia and later also to St. Nicholas. The present turf church was built in 1858 by Ólafur Briem (1808-59), who learnt carpentry in Copenhagen. Indeed, the indoor is inspired by the classical architecture of Denmark. The inside of the church is completely timber-lined. It seats up to 60 people and it is the biggest turf church that remains in Iceland. In some cases, like this one, there was a bell porch at the front of a church, while in majority of buildings bells were hanging in the church itself. It is interesting that at the time when the church was constructed, building turf churches was out of fashion. Experts suggest various reasons why Saurbær is not a wooden church – it was either conservatism of the keeper of place, economic reasons or, most probably, a simple common sense, since the church stands on a windy hill, and turf church offers more stability. The church was renovated in the middle of the last century and it has been under protection of the Icelandic National Museum since 1962.