Living Under the Winter Ice~


Laufas is an old turf house in Northern Iceland. There are many of these partially underground historical sod houses in Iceland. The house was built between 1866-1870. The houses are very large and multi-level, with one floor completely underground. In this photo you can see the sod brick construction which has withstood the test of time and Iceland’s formidable winters.

Laufas house facades are made of wood which is quite scarce in Iceland.

There are underground passages,

and underground rooms.

These houses are snug,

but quite spacious,

and not at all claustrophobic inside.

20-30 people lived in Laufas House.

The houses give one a sense of communal underground living,

that was heat efficient during Iceland’s unforgiving winters.

Laufas House was a wealthy priest’s house, and some rooms are more polished and finished than others.

This was a working farm, on a gorgeous site, with a church that was originally built in 1698.

Cheers to you from Iceland’s fascinating turf houses~

261 thoughts on “Living Under the Winter Ice~

  1. I am absolutely fascinated with Iceland. My friend just returned from a vacation there with his family. This post was fabulous and educational. ❤ Amazing, Cindy, as always!

  2. They are really beautiful – and your photos show them well, inside and outside. Many years since we visited, so thank you for taking me again! I had forgotten much…

    • I don’t know why it didn’t feel claustrophobic, but it didn’t. It was like a village underground. Icelanders tell me they feel complete peace when they visit these houses and I definitely felt this too.

    • These structures are not drafty at all and they are built below the frost line. They are snug tight and comfortable inside, mid-60’s seems right in summer. In winter with fire, I imagine they were quite comfortable. The design is so efficient. Iceland is the land of earthquakes, volcanoes and avalanches, and yet these amazing homes survive.

  3. such cool spaces…seems magical 💫 I’m reminded of homes created in Alberta…The Ukrainian Dug-Out Home…thatched home…of vertical poles and coated with several layers of mud plaster on the interior and the exterior.

    wonderful posts Cindy 🤓 smiles hedy ☺️

  4. Not really too many… but there are some days I’d like to bury myself in that snug environment.
    I’d prefer an isolated but adapted (with conveniences) island in a mild climate. 🙂

    Safe travels!

  5. This post is very informative. The homes are charming. But on the other hand, I felt squeezed just by looking at the indoor shots. I guess when it’s a matter of necessity, there is no room for such thing as claustrophobia. 🙂

  6. I think there is a part of this in all of us, a place where we could truly live off the land and experience time away from all the noise & activity of the ‘modern life.’ Wonderful introduction and photos, Cindy. A different view of Iceland than I have seen before.

    • I certainly agree with you. I moved to The Holler for just this reason. At first I was uneasy with the isolation. Now what we call “civilization” makes me uncomfortable. I am quite happy with critters for neighbors. Love hearing from you Randall & thank you.

  7. I wonder why no one lives in these anymore? They are cozy and I’m claustrophobic and wonder if I could live in there. It makes sense to live somewhat under the earth to stay warm and cool. Great photos of them. An acquaintance just came back from a trip there and fell on the cobblestones the first day injuring her eye and her husband had a kidney stone episode while there. They became very familiar with the hospital system there and were quite impressed. 😉 I like your version of Iceland better. 🙂

    • Icelanders reveal themselves when you talk to them. They are kind and hardy people, who have historically lived in circumstances that would kill most all of us. It gives them such an interesting perspective. Icelanders seem to visit the turf houses, like touchstones, to clarify who they are, and to feel a sort of peace. But you know, the lure of civilization has moved us all. TTowns have electricity, hospitals, restaurants. Few can resist this ❤

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