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Locals in Reykhólar village baffled to discover travellers think they can camp out inside the church

By Staff

  • A church or a free hostel? The doors to the church in the small village Reykhólar will no longer be left open because some travellers seem to have misinterpreted this old tradition as an invitation to turn the church into a free hostel. Photo/Wikimedia under a creative commons license.

A Canadian couple was thrown out of a church in the village of Reykhólar in the Southern Westfjords, West Iceland on Friday morning when a local resident discovered the travellers had camped out inside the church overnight. This is not the first time foreign travellers have camped out inside the church, spending the night and even cooking their dinner inside the old wooden building. Locals are baffled by this inexplicable behaviour, the news site visir.is reports.

Read more: 11 reasons to visit the remote and wondrous Westfjords

The doors to the church in Reykhólar have been left open, in accordance to an old custom. Some foreign travellers seem to have mistaken this as an open invitation to spend the night and even prepare dinner inside the house of worship. María Mack , a local woman who confronted the unwelcome overnight guests, told visir.is that the Canadians seemed to think there was nothing wrong with camping out in the church.

This is not the first time local residents discover foreign travellers sleeping inside the church. Earlier this year the priest came into the church late one night to discover foreign travellers asleep on the church pews. Before going to sleep the unwelcome visitors had cooked dinner and then hung up their laundry to dry inside the church.

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Maria Mack tells visir.is that the behaviour is not only disrespectful but also dangerous, pointing out that the inside of the church is all wood. To stop further visits of this kind the local community has decided to lock the front doors of the church, a step the community finds regrettable, since the church is the centre of the small village. “It’s ridiculous that you have to formally ban things which any sensible person should realize you cannot do,” María  adds.

 

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