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Holar Cathedral

Region: North Iceland
Coordinates: 65.7333615° N 19.1138716° W

The cathedral belongs to the Holar benefice in the Skagafjord deanery. After the Episcopal seat at Holar was abolished in 1798, it became a parsonage until 1861. The last Rev. at Holar built a house for his family in 1854. This house still stands restored, and is in the care of the National Museum. In 1952 Holar became a parsonage again and a seat of an ordaining bishop for the northern diocese.

In 1106, the country was devided into two dioceses and the owner of Holar decided to donate the property “for God’s sake and the necessity of the holy church”, as he put it according to The Saga of Jon the Holy. Holar remained an Episcopal seat for almost seven centuries, 1106-1798. Like the Episcopal seat for the southern see, Holar was a very important centre of culture and education and ecclesiastical- and political power. During the presence of the bishops, it was an educational centre, with some interruptions until 1802. The present church at Holar was consecrated in 1763 without being finished. The house was badly constructed and constant repairs had to be carried out. In 1886, the tiled roof was removed and a wooden one with corrugated iron was built.

The church has never had a steeple. The 27 m high, free standing steeple, is a memorial from 1950 to commemorate the last catholic bishop, Jon Arason, and his two sons, who were executed in 1550, because they stood in the way of the reformation in the northern see. In 1881 the municipal authorities of the Skagafjord district bought Holar and in 1882 an agricultural college was established, which nowadays concentrates on fish rearing, horse breeding and training and equestrian sports.

North Iceland Saga Trail

Photo Credit: Visit North Iceland

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