Svörtuloftsviti – Skálasnagaviti: a lighthouse in Iceland that boasts magnificent coastal views
Svörtuloft (or the Black Ceiling) is a ruggedly beautiful place to visit. Despite the name sounds ominous, it stems from the cliffs being formed of pitch black lava, like in so many other places in this area. Here the lava flow didn’t stop until it reached the cold sea and the surf has eroded the pitch black lava through the centuries. Interestingly, there are at least 14 places in Iceland by this name, Svörtuloft, and here the lava looks like it has been cut and made into a massive, sheer black wall, almost 4 km long.
If you are out at sea, Skálasnagaviti lighthouse is called Svörtuloftaviti, and bear that in mind that it has got two names: one from land and one from the sea!
The lighthouse is located in the westernmost part of the volcanic Snæfelsnes Peninsula and boasts a fluorescent orange color and a spectacular views over the western coastline.
This splendid work of architecture resides at the end of a winding gravel road and was constructed around 1931. Its bright orange color stands out amid the black rock and cliffs, is about 12,8 meters high and it is the successor of the first iron bar lighthouse, erected in 1914, which had eroded.
Sailing in the Faxaflói bay and the Breiðafjörður bay in the western part of Iceland might be safe and calm, but traveling from one to the other can be a problem, and throughout the centuries there have been several incidents and casualties. Ships have stranded, and most of them are quickly blown to pieces by the shore. If you add the strong currents from the Atlantic Ocean, it is most likely a mission impossible to navigate. Here, by Svörtuloft the mailboat Anne Dorothea stranded and the whole crew perished. Only one hand was found. And recently, in 2001 the fishing boat, Svanborg from the neighbouring village, Ólafsvík, stranded by Svörtuloft, with 3 fishermen losing their lives and 1 saved.
This is perhaps one of the reasons that a lighthouse was built on the cliffs.
And don’t visit this place in really bad weather…
Author’s notes: once you pass Skartdsvík Beach, you’ll drive on a narrow gravel road in order to reach the lighthouse. While driving there, be sure to stop and check out Skartdsvík Beach, one of the few beaches in Iceland that actually has white sand. If you visit this area from May until the end of August you will see many seabirds in the cliffs, also, look for the poem written near the back of Svörtuloftsviti Lighthouse!