I t is no wonder that travelers driving by the rock cliff called in the South of Iceland are taken aback for a second. For if there was ever a “postercave” for what one can imagine to really be the home of the Hidden Peoples, this is it.
What makes all the difference is the minuscule turf building right before the entrance into what is actually quite big and wonderful, two-story cave. The building, in reality built to shelter sheep, does really look like a manor for some elf king. Perhaps it is.
It is far larger inside than one can imagine from outside
While the sight does easily conjure up images about mythical beings in what is already quite impressive surroundings what is even more impressive is the human link to the cave. The large cave,in Icelandic, really has a second floor so to speak. It is far larger inside than one can imagine from outside.
But even the size is but a side-story. The most amazing fact concerns the findings of archaeologists that seem to suggest that this very cave might be one of the earliest human habitat in Iceland. This will perhaps never be fully verified but it makes perfect sense in a cold and windy country for people finding this natural shelter to settle down.
Another quite interesting fact about the cave regards Nazis of all people. For some reason German authorities sent a team of scientists to this area in 1936 for exploring Viking artefacts. The Germans liked the cave so much they spent nearly all their time here. They even ventured to built a theory about the cave originally being a pagan temple. Which also might very well be correct.
Finding Rútshelli is easier than batting an eyelid. The rock stands just meters away from the Ring Road in the Southern part of Iceland (see map below) in what is really the shadow of the Eyjafjallajökull of the volcano-that-stopped-the-world infamy. The area belongs to a farm close by. Stopping here is possible alongside the road, take utmost care, and have a look. For a longer stay contact the farmer and get permission to park away from the Ring Road to keep things safe.