Dimmuborgir-Dark Castles

Access and services

The Mývatn region is a world of adventure and natural wonders. Among places of particular interest are Dimmuborgir (Dark Castles), volcanic rock formations to the east of the lake. The area is characterised by numerous forms of mystery and imagination, carved in lava. The road to Dimmuborgir is by Geiteyjarströnd farm, 8 km south of village Reykjahlíð. A service centre with bathroom facilities store and a restaurant is located in the parking lot overlooking this magnificent nature pearl.

The Mývatn area is right on the boundaries between the American and the Eurasian tectonic plates which are drifting apart, causing the high volcanic activity in the area. Dimmuborgir were created in about 2300 years ago the violent throes of an extensive volcanic eruption. Tremendous volume of lava flowed from a 12 km long fissure south of Hverfjall (Hverfell) and ran through Laxárdalur and Aðaldalur valleys all the way down to sea in Skjálfandi bay.

Geologists believe that during this eruption something blocked the flow of lava causing the formation of a lake of lava. As the lava in the lake had started to solidify the blockage gave way and the molten lava flowed out leaving behind the parts which had solidified. These unique conditions created geological formations which have not been found above water anywhere else in the world.
Walking routes

There are a number of well marked walking trails in Dimmuborgir of different lenths and level of difficulty, so everyone should find one that suits their need. The Little Circle walk takes only 15-20 minutes and the Big Circle about half an hour. Krókastígur, the Crooked Path, is a little more demanding walk which takes about 40 minutes. The Church Path, leads to the best known formation in Dimmuborgir which is a cave open at both ends with a high dome-shaped roof, appropriately named the Church.

In recent years, there has been concern about the landscape and flora of Dimmuborgir being threatened by build up of sand due to erosion east of Mývatn. In order to combat this, soil conservation is ongoing. The erosion and the soil conservation are clearly evident from the Mellandahringur trail which extends from the Church Path and takes an additional half hour.
The Icelandic Yule Lads

Dimmuborgir are an enchanting area to explore on a nice summer day. Visiting Dimmuborgir at Christmas time, however, is truly magical. The landscape takes on a different look in its winter garb and that is the time when the Icelandic Yule Lads who reside in Dimmuborgir become active. Visiting them in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience children of all ages.


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