Álfaskólinn (Elf School) – Reykjavik, Iceland - Atlas Obscura

Álfaskólinn (Elf School)

Learn about Iceland's hidden folk at this school dedicated to the study of elves.  


Some Icelanders take their belief in elves very seriously. For example, road crews in Iceland will sometimes hire folklore experts to determine if certain boulders are homes to elves, and will divert the road around the boulder if it turns out there are little people living within it.

This belief in elves doesn’t stop with road workers and superstitious locals either. After escaping a car crash unscathed, a member of the Icelandic Parliament had a 30-ton boulder moved to near his home because he believed that the local elves inside the boulder used their magic to save him. While there are many Icelanders who pay no mind to the superstitious elf-talk, there is a higher-than-average number of citizens that are believers.

With all that said, it’s not surprising to see that there’s an entire school dedicated to learning about these hidden people. Located in the thoroughly modern city of Reykjavik, the school has a full curriculum of study about the 13 types of elves in Iceland. This concentration comes with a set of published textbooks with drawn depictions of these creatures for reference in the classroom, or just in case you encounter one in the wild.

The school studies Iceland’s other supernatural fauna as well, such as fairies, trolls, dwarves, and gnomes, but they mainly focus on elves, because they are the most commonly believed in and “seen.” 

The school also offers five-hour classes for curious travelers which include a tour of hidden folk habitats and ends with coffee and pancakes with the school’s headmaster. He alone makes the experience worthwhile, as his genuine belief in elves and pointed sense of humor provide quality entertainment regardless of whether you believe his stories or not. Be prepared to be made fun of (especially if you’re Canadian) and to be surrounded by the likes of psychics and mediums. At the end, you will have a beautiful diploma to show off to your friends and colleagues as proof that you were sufficiently educated in the affairs of elves.

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