Laugarvatn is a small village with 159 people living there by a like with the same name. The size of the lake is about 2.1 square kilometers. Laugarvatn is one of the places people pass or stop by while driving the famous Golden Circle. In spite of being a small village it’s rich of history and culture.
In 1928 the school Héraðsskólinn was built there. It was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson who is considered by many people to be the foremost Icelandic architect. He also designed many other famous buildings in Iceland including Hallgrímskirkja what is the biggest church in Iceland located in Reykjavík. The actual building of the structure was carried out by Jónas from Hrifla, a powerful politician and true believer in education, art, and culture. He envisioned the house as a dominant force in education and culture in Iceland. The building was used as a school until 1996 and stayed empty until 2013 when it was changed to a hotel and restaurant.
The famous writer Halldór Kiljan Laxness often stayed there during the summer and in fact his work Sjálfstætt fólk (independent people) was written there in 1934. Many consider Sjálfstætt fólk to be his best work. In 1955 he received the Nobel prize in literature, and he’s the only Icelander to receive them. He left his typewriter at the Héraðskólinn and can still be seen there.
Laugarvatn village is also interesting for many other reasons. It’s rich of geothermal energy what is both used for house heating and as natural steam baths. In 1953 Menntaskólinn á Laugarvatni was founded, a school at matriculation level or the level between the Icelandic elementary school and universities. The school is small but rich of history and still exists. The University of Iceland has the department of sports education at Laugarvatn and it has been there for many decades. The department of sport education will be moved to Reykjavík a sad fact for people living at Laugarvatn.