An Icelander taking a stroll through the picturesque Hólavallagarður Cemetary noticed the door to the well-known Sturlukapella mausoleum was open. Venturing inside, he discovered the tomb was empty, and took photos to attest to this.
Teitur Atlason, vice chairperson of the Consumers’ Association of Iceland, recounted the event and shared photos from it on Facebook.
“I walked past this house of death … the door was open,” Teitur writes. “I could not resist, and curiosity took over. I walked up to the mausoleum but didn’t dare go inside. Instead, I stretched my camera phone inside and took some pictures. To my disappointment, it was completely empty. But while the photos were being taken, [my dog] Skuggi was rigid with fear and acted disturbed.”
Teitur’s discovery prompted many friends to chime in at how spooky they have found the mausoleum, which is the subject of numerous ghost stories. Comedian Ari Eldjárn, for example, recounted how, as a child, he and his friends were chronically scared of Sturlukapella. After once daring to knock on the door and hearing an echo, Ari said he became convinced that the tomb extends “far, far down into the earth, probably with a stone staircase extending all the way down with special candelabras on the walls. And so coffins at the bottom, probably with a pipe organ to one side.”
The actual history of the mausoleum, Stundin reports, was that it was built by the brothers Friðrik and Sturla Jónsson for their mother, Sigþrúður Friðriksdóttir, who died in a house fire while living in Friðrík’s home in 1912.
“I have always believed that [the brothers] felt very guilty about this, and that’s why they built it for her,” historian Sólveig Ólafsdóttir told Stundin. She also offered a perfectly mundane explanation for its empty state, saying, “The bodies are buried underground. The only thing kept inside the mausoleum itself is air.”