Skeiðará Bridge Monument – Iceland - Atlas Obscura

Skeiðará Bridge Monument

Twisted girders are all that remain of an Icelandic bridge that was wiped out by a combination of volcanic heat and glacial floods. 


In extreme landscapes, you will often find extraordinary examples of the effects nature can have on seemingly immovable man-made structures. 

One example of this destruction is a little-known monument located in the southeastern part of Iceland, made of the remnants of the Skeiðará Bridge. Once the longest span in Iceland, the Skeiðará Bridge comprised a portion of the Icelandic ring road. The bridge carried drivers across the Skeiðarár Sandur, a wide plain of black volcanic sand marbled with creeks of run-off from the Skeiðarárjökull glacier. 

In 1996, the volcano Vatnajökull, which sat beneath Skeiðarárjökull, erupted, melting portions of glacier and creating massive floods. While the girder bridge was built to withstand a hefty amount of flood waters, there was no preparing for the house-sized icebergs that the floods washed down the plain. A number of these glacial shards crashed into the bridge, wiping it out and creating a gap in the main ring road around Iceland.

All that remains of the original bridge today are two twisted girders by the side of the new road. They form a unique monument to the lovely but powerful beauty of Iceland’s natural landscape. 

The area also doubles as a pleasant place to stop and take in the local scenery. Both Skeiðarárjökull and another glacier, Svinafellsjökull, are visible in the far distance, offering stunning views to those who visit.

Know Before You Go

Bridge monument visible from main ring road near Skeiðarársandur.

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