The Icelandic Stone Collector That Left Behind a Secret Garden

Petra’s Garden | © Petra’s Steinasafn
Petra’s Garden | © Petra’s Steinasafn
Photo of Camille Buckley
26 November 2018

An extraordinary collection can be found in the serene East Iceland village of Stöðvarfjörður. What began as a simple hobby by a little girl grew to become a popular tourist attraction. As she got older, Petra María Sveinsdóttir’s stone collection grew until it could no longer fit in her house.

Born in 1922, in what is today known as Stöðvarfjörður, Ljósbörg, Petra María Sveinsdóttir lived her entire life in the village. She began collecting in 1946, bringing home stones she picked up during her long walks throughout the countryside, the sole origin of her collection.

The East fjords of Iceland had very difficult road connections up until 1962, which contributed to the low number of tourists visiting the isolated area. However, that all changed in 1974 when the garden opened its doors to the public.

Jasper and Agate mixture | © Petra’s Steinasafn

In the 1950s, the popularity of the collection had grown so much that both locals and international travelers were paying the garden a visit. The rising curiosity eventually made the garden the biggest attraction in East Iceland up to this day.

Petra | © Petra’s Steinasafn

The remarkable garden was formally opened to the public in 1974 and in 2003, over 20,000 guests visited the location. Although many guests are interested in the visual appeal of the stones, others come for the supposed energies they emit as well. According to the website, guests have reported experiencing healing sensations during their visits.

Quartz | © Petra’s Steinasafn

Petra’s stone collection is definitely a must-see if you are interested in crystals and their uses in healing, and you can even purchase different stones to add to your own collection in the gift shop. The garden, which is open between May 1st and October 15th, has an entrance fee of 1,500 ISK ($12). There’s also a cafe in the sunroom of Petra’s house that is open to the public between June and September.

Petra passed away in 2012, six weeks after her autobiography titled Steina Petra was published.

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