This renowned, ancient manor was
called Skrida up to the time when Bishop Stefan Jonsson of Skalholt
established the last monastery of the country there in 1493. It was the only monastery of the eastern part of the country
and the nearest convent in the south was at Kirkjubaejarklaustur, and
the nearest monastery in the north was at Munkathvera.
The church at Skrida was consecrated on the 23rd of
August 1496 and abolished in 1792.
At that time, there were three churches at neighbouring farms
in the Fljot-valley. The
oldest was at Bessastadir. Now
only one remains at Vathjofsstadur.
The reformation took place in the
southern see of the country in 1541, but the monastery was not
abolished until 1552 and the Danish king seized all its belongings. Many rich men
became vassals of the king and sat at Skriduklaustur, among
them a few magistrates, and revenue officers.
The last vassal seated there was Pall Olafsson, the poet.
The ruins of the church and the cemetery are still relatively
In 1930 a renowned Icelandic
author, Gunnar Gunnarsson, who had spent most of his life in Denmark
and gathered fame and fortune, bought the property and moved into a
new house there in 1939. The
German architect Fritz Höger designed the house.
Its area is 315 metres square, and it has two storeys and an
attic. Gunnar lived there
until 1948, when he moved to the capital.
He donated the property to the state on several conditions
concerning cultural and scientific activities, which should be practiced
there in the future.
During the period 1949 to 1990, an
agricultural research centre was operated there, concentrating mainly
on sheep breeding and cultivation.
The Gunnar Gunnarsson’s Institute
was established by law in 1997, and the Ministry of Education assumed
responsibility of Skriduklaustur in 1999.
This institute now operates a cultural and an educational
centre with an apartment for visiting artists and scholars, a small
restaurant and various cultural events the whole year round.
Skriduklaustur is located about 50 metres above sea
level and 49 miles from the sea.
After the establishment of
Europe's largest national park, Vatnajokull, on June 7th, 2008,
Skriduklaustur became one of its visitors' centres.
East Iceland Saga Trail