Since the days of the settlement, Iceland has been a land of fishermen. Rough characters hewn from Viking stock, daily braving the deadly waters of the North Atlantic without a second thought. But I imagine that even the fiercest among them felt a shiver when coming ashore at Selatangar.
Set on the southern coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula in an unforgiving landscape of black lava, Selatangar was a fishing settlement until abandoned in the 1880s. All that remains today are the foundations of some shoreside dwellings built into the lava.
A single night on such terrain would be unbearable, so it’s hard to fathom that people spent an entire season here. The “homes” are little more than caves, protected from the sea winds by walls of lava rock. Despite the passage of 130 years, some are still in decent condition. Selatangar is an exciting place to explore; it doesn’t look like much at first, but that’s only because the abodes blend perfectly into the landscape. In fact, the settlement extends over quite a large area.
Exciting, but Selatangar is also deeply unsettling. In this harsh and unfriendly landscape, a split second of inattention could result in a nasty fall onto the craggy rock. It’s the kind of place in which evil spirits might feel comfortable. Indeed, the fishermen who lived here reported being harassed by a malicious ghost they called Tanga-Tómas.
We didn’t encounter any ghosts during our visit, but Selatangar still left us spooked. The place just has an evil aura and, although I enjoyed the time we spent there, I greeted our departure with a sense of relief.