Lonely Planet Writer

After 21 years, one man has repaired every lighthouse in Iceland

After 21 years of work, an Icelandic man has repaired every lighthouse in the country, reports Reykjavík Grapevine. Iceland has 104 lighthouses, and Ingvar Hreinsson has dedicated himself to their repair and upkeep. He’s currently in Ísafjörður in the country’s dramatic Westfjords, repairing the Æðeyjarviti lighthouse, the last building on his list.

 

“I’ve completed the circle and that was celebrated in a fitting manner,” he told Vísir. “I’ve been doing this for 21 years, working on the maintenance of these lighthouses. Now I’m finally working on this one, and have with that visited them all.”

Aurora lit lighthouse. Gar skagaviti, Iceland.
Aurora lit lighthouse. Gar skagaviti, Iceland. Image by Orvar Atli Thorgeirsson / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

Iceland’s lighthouses vary enormously in their design, from brightly painted towers to huts on metal frames, and are often found in stunning natural settings. Hreinsson said that the almost castle-like lighthouse at Dyrhólaey, near Vík, is his favourite. “I’ve done most of my work there,” he told Vísir. “I’ve ended up changing it, fixing it up, putting in an apartment. Today it’s one of the most expensive accommodations in the country. I am extremely proud of my work, and have strong feelings towards the lighthouse.”

Vík, in South Iceland, is an increasingly buzzing tourist spot, thanks to the nearby basalt beaches, puffin-packed cliffs, glacial lagoons and volcanoes.

Iceland lighthouses often have dramatic architecture like this castle-like building.
Vík, South Iceland. Image by Arturas Burnickis

Iceland has long looked to the sea – it was first settled by Irish monks in the 8th century, before the Vikings arrived around 100 years later. Fishing is a vital part of the Icelandic economy, with cod the most important species. Around a fifth of the workforce depends on the ocean for their livelihood, and whale-watching and other tours are increasingly popular among visitors.