The Búðakirkja Church is a small wooden church erected on the southern shore of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula – where road 54 turns from the sea towards the mountains. It sits as a strong colour contrast against the backdrop of the Snæfellsjökull glacier, highlighted by its colour on its white vestry, and this makes it the most photographed church in Iceland.
The church sits on a lava field and was reconstructed in its present form in 1987 by local people and experts from the National Museum of Iceland even though it was first built in 1703. There were once quite active trading centres in the peninsula itself and Búðir was one of the well-developed fishing villages, and one of Iceland’s main ports. This trading boom ended towards the beginning of the 19th century, but today the area thrives economically thanks to tourism.
All that remains of the former settlement of Bushire is the beautiful black wooden church of Búðakirkja. The place for its erection in the early 18th century was determined by the rules of traditional culture and thinking, through a magical ritual. The first construction was of a small chapel wrapped in turf, which was removed after about a century by order of King Christian VIII of Denmark because of its unstable condition.
Several residents fought for the restoration of the sacred place, and in 1849 the priestly council authorized the construction of a new house of prayer on the condition that the residents of Bushire would finance the project themselves and take care of the upkeep of the church. Some items from the original chapel have been preserved inside Búðakirkja, the lock on the gate with beautiful old inlay being one of them. It is still used today for some of the parish’s traditional church events by its 120 or so registered parishioners, for weddings, musical events and children’s storytelling gatherings.
What you can see around Búðakirkja
Búðir boasts a vast lava field of Búðahraun, which extends east from the settlement out to sea at Faxaflói Bay, and west to Hraunlandarif Reef. The source of the lava can be traced back to the 88-metre high volcanic crater Búðaklettur, set in the middle of the lava field. The crater has an opening on its southwest side, from where the 380 m long Búðahellir cave can be entered. The lava field is home to around 130 different plant species, including some rare and protected species. The eastern part has been declared a nature reserve since the late 1980s. Another attraction is the beach with light sand and black lava rocks.