Black church at Budir

Buðir black church – Snæfellsnes Peninsula

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Black church at Buðir

The hamlet of Buðir haunts the Southern edge of the Snæfellsnes peninsular about 40 minute drive from Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall.  Buðir used to have potential as a trading point during the Danish Days as it has a natural harbour and good mountain pass to the Northern side of the peninsular.


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The South Edge of Snæfellsnes has open sea to Reykjavik and road to Borganes (the previous capital).  Currently there is a 4 star hotel right on the tiny harbour and the famous church, called ‘Búðarkirkja ‘, is just a 100 meters up a narrow, winding lane.

Hiking Area

Apart from the Buðir black church there are some interesting views and hikes across the lava field (Buðahraun) towards the Buðaklettur and Snæfellsjökull Volcano.

There is an old wall from a bygone farm and a bit of a beach with yellow sand South of the Budir Church and a network of rough pathways to get there.


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Pitch Perfect Church

The Buðir black church is one of 3 black churches in Iceland. The small church is black because the exterior wood is painted with pitch, just like the hull of a boat. This is to protect the church from the harsh Icelandic elements.

This works fairly well and buildings treated in this way have survived over 100 years which is a long time for a building to stand in Iceland.

Without the help of the Fathers

The church here is culturally significant. There has been a church here since 1703. When the importance of Buðir as a trading post declined, the hamlet was declared to no longer be a parish. A replacement church was needed, but not forthcoming from the church.

One woman fought and won the Danish King’s permission to build a new black church… Steinunn Lárusdóttir. When her church was completed in 1848, a plaque claimed the Buðir black church was build without the help of the “Fathers”, in other words, without any help from the Lutheran Church.

The church which stands there now is a reconstruction of Steinunn Lárusdóttir’s church. And it serves as a reminder of the strong Icelandic woman and her determination.

Hotels Near Buðirkirkja

Hotel Buðir is one of Iceland’s finest hotels in beautiful surroundings.  The hotel is just a short walk from the church.  This luxury hotel features one of the best restaurants in Iceland.

Snæfellsnes Hotels

These hotels and guesthouses are a short drive from Budirkirkja. Budir hotel is just a few minutes walk.

Búðarkirkja in Winter

The church at Buðir can usually be accessed all year round. There is a narrow, but well maintained road leading past the hotel and on to the church. If there is a lot of snow, the road might only be cleared up to the Hotel, and then it requires a short walk. We were lucky to catch snow on the roof of the church when we visited n early April.

Budir Church with snow

See more images of Buðarkirkja from a Winter trip in March.

Photography tips

Using a long telephoto around 200mm from a distance allows you to play with the Snæfellsnes mountains in the background. The graveyard offers some interesting foreground. Also the church can be framed with the gate posts.

For a standard wide angle capture, get close and set the tripod high to even the distortion of the top and bottom of the building.

It is a black church, so you are free to concentrate exposure on other things such as sky without losing the subject, although it is nice to capture some texture in the dark wood.

Surrounding area

Buðakirkja is close to a lava field called Buðahraun. It is also close to one of Iceland’s top Hotel and restaurant – Buðir Hotel. The site is not far from the Frodaheiði mountain pass that takes you to the North side of the Snæfellsness peninsular and the fishing village at Olafsvik.

Buðirkirkja Winter Sunrise
Buðirkirkja Winter Sunrise

Book a Tour

These Snæfellsnes peninsula tours will normally include a visit to the Black Church at Budir.

Private Snæfellsnes Tours

Snæfellsnes Minibus Tours

Budir Church from a distance with a 135mm telephoto.
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