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Oddi church

Oddi, in the fields of the Rangá, is a major historic site. It first became famous around the middle of the 11th Century, when a church was built there, and thus is one of the oldest church sites in Iceland. It was a scholar, political and cultural center for centuries. In the year 1078, Sæmundur the Learned became priest of Oddi. Saemundur the Learned was a chieftain and the first important person to reside at Oddi. Saemundur is believed to have brought some Latin books from Paris, where he studied at the 'Black College', the forerunner of the present Sorbonnne. In one of the folktales about Saemundur the Learned and the Devil, Saemundur hits the devil on the head with a book which contained King David's Psalms, after he'd sat on the Devil's back across the Atlantic, on his way from France to Iceland. Although this may be more myth than reality, one thing is certain, that there must have been a fairly good collection of books in Latin at Oddi which Saemundur had other people write on skin for him and also various study books in Latin. Sæmundur established a school at Oddi, which is believed to have stood for two centuries.


Among other eminent Icelanders who studied at the Oddi school was Snorri Sturluson, the father of Icelandic historiography. Snorri Sturluson (1179 - 1241) was a poet and historian, born in Oddi, Iceland. Snorri acquired a deep knowledge of Icelandic tradition and a European breadth of outlook. His main works were the Prose Edda, a handbook on poetics, and Heimskringla, a series of sagas of the Norwegian kings down to 1177. Snorri also retold old Norse myths within stories of his own creation. His genius was his ability to present historical facts with the immediacy of drama. In 1215 he was elected law-speaker, or president of the Icelandic high court. He became involved in a plan for the king of Norway Haakon IV to rule Iceland, but when the plan failed he fled to Norway. After his return to Iceland against the wish of Haakon, the king took revenge and had him murdered. Some other known famous men of Oddi include Eyjolfur Saemundsson, Loftur Saemundsson and Jon Loftsson.

The most famous of the Oddi priests in more recent centuries was one of the national poets: the Rev. Matthías Jochumsson, who served at Oddi from 1880 to 1886. His poems and psalms are among the best 19th Century Icelandic literature has to offer and include the text of the national anthem Ó Guð vors lands ("Our Country's God", 1874).

The current Oddi church was erected in 1924 and has recently been comprehensively restored to a very intimate and romantic place of worship... The settings and surroundings here are simply too beautiful to describe with a clear view of the panoramic landscape of South Iceland. The Church in Oddi was chosen by GMTV in UK (Europes largest morning television program) as one of the 3 best locations in the world for an "Island Wedding" in a global viewer competition (alas - came in 2nd place closely after Mauritius). From Oddi - it is well worth climbing the hill Gammabrekka and enjoying the beauty of the countryside.

Oddi church
GPS Points N0° 0' 0.000" W0° 0' 0.000"
Postal code

851

Road number

266

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