Hólar í Hjaltadalur, often referred to simply as Hólar, is situated in the Hjaltadalur valley between Hofsós and Varmahlið in the Skagafjörður district. Around 370 km from Reykjavík, and with its noticeable red stone church, Hólar was an important religious center and home to Iceland’s northern bishops until their seat was abolished in 1798. This medieval bishopric in northern Iceland is a must-see for anyone travelling in the area. This is a place that provides an insight into the religious history and traditions of Iceland. These days, it is home to a horse farm and university.
Hólar is of great historical and religious importance, and these factors attract visitors to the area. Essentially, a small community of only about 100 people, and surrounded by mountains, this continues to be a place where archeological excavation is still ongoing. It is a place where visitors will find many interesting buildings, Hólar cathedral, and the site of a center that tells the history of the Icelandic horse. A turf house called Nýibær is also to be found here. Between the year 1106 and the Reformation, the bishopric of Hólar was the educational and ecumenical capital of Iceland’s northern region. Made of red sandstone and completed in 1763, the Cathedral here is Iceland’s oldest stone church and many of the works of art it contains are of great historical value. A museum tour of the Icelandic Horse History Center in Hólar provides visitors with an insight into this unique breed of Icelandic horse and its place in the country’s history.
The former bishopric site was used as a vicarage from 1798 to 1861 at which time it was moved to Viðvík, and subsequently reinstated in Hólar in 1952. Hólar Agricultural College was established in 1882 but was renamed to its present name - Hólar University College - in 2003.