Question: Where in the world is a fishing village guarded by a half-ogre near the entrance "to the center of the Earth"?
Answer: Arnarstapi, Iceland
Iceland is well known for its magical landscapes, and the small fishing hamlet of Arnarstapi practically epitomizes all of the otherworldly wonders in just one place. Nestled between the chilly Atlantic waters and mossy lava fields, the community boasts unique rock formations, basalt columns, sea caves, black sand beaches, mountains, volcanoes, and more.
The village dates back to the earliest settlements of Iceland in the ninth and 10th centuries, thriving as a fishing village with its natural harbor and rich herring population. During these ancient days, the Icelandic Sagas described a half-human, half-ogre who protected the village. To this day, he’s known as the town’s guardian spirit, and there’s an enormous troll-like monument honoring his presence. According to other Icelandic lore, Arnarstapi is also home to many elves who inhabit the lava fields and rocks.
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The village is located on the southern side of Snaefellsnes Peninsula, a 55-mile long peninsula. The location was made popular as the setting in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth in which the characters enter the interior of the planet. The peninsula is made up of quite a few small fishing villages, like Arnarstapi, and Snaefellsjokull National Park. In honor of the famous novel, Arnarstapi has a sign showing the distances to major cities around the world if you traveled through the Earth’s core.
One of the most striking features of Arnarstapi is Gatklettur (Arch Rock), a massive rock formation that rises from the sea and looks like a giant’s bridge. A perfectly symmetrical archway is blasted into the base with views of the waves beneath and a pathway to walk across the top. Swirling patterns at the base of the rocks show the pounding toll of the sea. Another extraordinary natural wonder in Arnarstapi is Mount Stapafell, a pyramid-shaped mountain and volcano that serves as the backdrop for many photographs of the village.
A Few Things to Know about Snaefellsnes Peninsula:
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula is crowned with Snaefellsjokull, a glacier-capped volcano. At 4,700 feet tall, it’s visible all the way from Reykjavik which is 74 miles away.
- The volcano is one of the most well-known volcanoes in Iceland and has not erupted in nearly 2,000 years. It’s estimated to be about 700,000 years old.
- There are many reports of people have difficulty sleeping when visiting Snaefellsnes due to the magnetic energy of the glacier. Some people even claim that Snaefellsjokull is one of the world’s seven chakras and energy centers. Because of this, there are also lots of stories of the glacier as the meeting place for extra-terrestrials.
- Some Icelanders living near Snaefellsjokull have such a strong connection with it that they consider it to be a real friend. One woman who felt this way refused to get married unless it was within sight of the glacier.
- Snaefellsnes plays a key role in Iceland’s history as the supposed birthplace of Bolli Bollason, an important Norse figure from the Icelandic Sagas.
- The backdrop of Snaefellsnes is most popular in Journey to the Center of the Earth. However, it was also the setting in another famous novel: Kristnihald undir Jökli, or 'Under the Glacier' by Icelandic Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness.
- In Snaefellsnes, you will find several natural mineral springs—even one that contains fresh, carbonated water straight from the ground. These mineral springs are considered to have healing properties.
Hike the rocky coastline of Arnarstapi and take in the extraordinary natural sights during our Enhanced! Untamed Iceland adventure.