From the eleventh to the eighteenth centuries, the town of Skálholt served as one of two episcopal bishoprics in Iceland. As a center for Christianity, it became one of the wealthiest and most influential settlements in the country. In 1550, the last Catholic bishop was beheaded (along with his two sons), marking the end of the Reformation in the area. The town remained a Lutheran center until the seat was moved to Reykjavik in 1797.
Modern-day visitors will find a large Protestant cathedral in Skálholt, built between 1956 and 1963 to replace one destroyed by an earthquake in the 1700s. An underground vault below the church houses what are believed to be the sarcophagus remains of Pall Jonsson, one of the town’s most powerful bishops, which were discovered during an excavation in 1954.
Skálholt is located along Road 31 in the lower Biskupstungur Valley.