Waterfalls below, sun-drenched mountains above – Kirkjufell deserves its ranking as the most photographed area in Iceland.

Kirkjufell means “church mountain” in Icelandic, which is fitting, as Iceland’s most iconic peak reaches up to the heavens. While photographing here, I envisioned Kirkjufell as a pillar of Asgard, holding up the home of the gods of ancient Norse mythology.

The Norse religion is full of ideas that are beautiful, sometimes hauntingly so. Nine Worlds inhabit the Norse cosmos, all flanking a central cosmological tree, Yggdrasil. And these worlds will be reborn after Ragnarök, when the gods and their enemies collide in a climactic battle for the fate of the universe. During this conflict, the world will be enveloped in flames, only to be reborn anew. Fertile green land will cover everything and two humans will repopulate Earth.

Standing in front of sights like Kirkjufell, and driving through Iceland in general, I found it easy to see how these ideas took form. The natural world is at its most rugged and picturesque here. Waterfalls, mountains and volcanic rock dot the area. Storms ravage the land and sea, only to be replaced by sunshine and blue skies moments later. Seasons change and give each landscape a new and unique look every few months. Maybe that’s why Norse mythology is so beautiful, and why they call this country the “Land of Fire and Ice.”

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