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My Favorite Christmas Present…

December 26, 2011
Núpsstaður

© jmillerphoto.com - Núpsstaður Turf Church

It was a wonderful Christmas.  Santa was far more generous than he should have been.  But my best present didn’t show up until early Christmas afternoon.

On Christmas Eve I finished up a fairly massive project that has been on hold for a while.  I wanted to make a spreadsheet of all 359 or so country churches in Iceland.  This is was done for planning purposes for a potential return trip to Iceland sometime in a few years after the kids graduate from high school, reach adulthood, and (in theory) are no longer completely dependent on our support for their day-to-day needs.

Okay, you’re asking, “Iceland Churches?”  As I’ve blogged somewhere in the last couple of years, doing images of Iceland’s country churches was my first solid spark of creativity when it came to photography.  It is what I first did well, it is what got me my first publication credits, and it remains my first photographic love.  If I’m going to go back, I’m going to know what I want to make images of before I leave.

Completing this spreadsheet wasn’t an easy task, but I have some great tools to help me.  First is my favorite of all favorite books for traveling in Iceland entitled The Visitor’s Key to Iceland.  I have the 2003 edition and it is 530+ pages of pure traveling gold.  It has maps of all of the numbered roads and a very thorough index.  Great resource.

To make sure I didn’t miss anything, I also used Hannes Bjornsson’s kirkjan.net.  In its current version it has a list of all of Iceland’s churches, sorted by region, with pictures associated with nearly all of them.  Over the years I’ve shared an image or two with Hannes to help fill in some gaps in his picture library.

When I was about half way through with the project I sent a note to Hannes telling him that I was working on it and I would give him a link to the document on Google Docs when I was done.  When I finished Christmas Eve I sent him a quick note.  I received his response this afternoon and as generous as Santa was, this was better than anything else I got under the tree.

It wasn’t gold, frankincense, or myrrh.  It was instead a link to a new website on Iceland’s churches.  This new site, named Kirkjukort, also has a complete list of Iceland’s churches.  But in addition it has a Google Map with locations of all of the churches and additional historical information on many of the churches.  The only downside is that it is entirely in Icelandic and the dust on what little I learned of Icelandic is a couple of inches thick.  But the site is easy to navigate, it has some outstanding information, and is going to be an incredible time saver as I start to build regional itineraries.

And saving time?  Best Christmas present to be had.

About the Image:
This is in my top ten favorite images of Iceland and probably in my top 5 for favorite images of churches.  This is the turf church at Núpsstaður, or more formally known as Bænhúsið á Núpsstað or Praryer House at Núpsstað.  Inside it is very small.  If memory serves, it may seat a dozen people if they know and like each other really well.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2011 12:30 am

    That is exciting, and I understand your passion for the Icelandic churches. They are so simple.

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