Given the season I think this is an excellent time to talk about famous haunted houses in Reykjavík. Iceland has a long history of ghosts, evil spirits, elves and monsters. Perhaps this is not all that surprising giving the country’s history of paganism and witch trials. Not to mention the darkness, which dominates the winter months. Don’t forget that darkness a bigger factor in people’s lives in the past, when the absence of modern electric lighting undoubtedly fueled people’s fear and imagination.
Without further introduction, here are three of my favorite haunted houses in Reykjavík.
Number one, Höfði Manor:
Slap dab in the middle of Reykjavík lies one of it’s most haunted houses, Höfði Manor (built in 1909). The building is undoubtedly best known for having hosted the 1986 Reagan and Gorbachev Cold War meeting and has for most of it’s history been used for official purposes. However, locals like talking about the buildings poltergeist which haunts it. Tales of strange and unexplained events are reported to this day but here is one that I found amusing; During the 1970s a tour-guide entertained guests with various ghost stories of the house to which one woman reportedly responded to in a cynical manner and scolded the guide for telling fibs. Moments later the woman raised a champagne glass she was holding above her head and showered herself with it’s contents. Afterwards she became very embarrassed and said that she had not been in control of her actions.
Number two, The National Theater:
No proper theater is complete without a spooky ghost, and the Icelandic National Theater certainly has one. During the British invasion of Iceland in the spring of 1940 the theater was still under construction and the interior of the building was unfinished. The British Army took advantage of this fact and stored ammunition within the building’s thick concrete walls. According to legend, a British soldier stationed at the theater committed suicide. He then proceeded to haunt the building for years afterwards. The most haunted place in the building was the trench between the main stage and the audience. A fitting place for a soldier to haunt.
Number three: Landakotskirkja (Landakot-church) and Landakotsskóli (Landakot-school).
These two buildings share a macabre history and play a shameful and sadly, a part of Reykjavík’s history unknown to outsiders. The church and school of Landakot were, until 2008 administered by the Catholic Church. The school’s headmaster and monseigneur of the church, father Ágúst George, and his lover the teacher Margrét Müller, ruled the school and church like their own petty fiefdom from the 1970s to the late 1990s. Before the duo’s death in 2008, accusations of widespread physical and sexual violence that took place during their tenure at the school began to surface. The scandal took Iceland by storm but the church defended the accused. Father Ágúst Georg died in 2008 before the case went to trial and Margrét Müller threw herself from the school’s tower. Her suicide took place early on a school morning, in full view of the children I might add.
Icelandic psychics are convinced that the area is haunted. They say that Margrét’s spirit wanders the courtyard trying to awaken her husband, which lies buried in the churches graveyard. However, she cannot breach the wall of sanctity that surrounds the church and graveyard. Thus, she is cursed to her miserable existence for all eternity.