People get lonely. Pets get lonely. Maybe even plants get lonely, especially if they don’t get enough water or aren’t told that they’re the prettiest plants in the world. But houses? Really? How does a house get to be lonely? Well, for some reason, netizens have dubbed one tiny white house on Elliðaey Island, "the loneliest house on Earth" because it’s the only property on the island. And the reasons why it is the way it is has led many to theorize and speculate.
Welcome to Elliðaey Island
Just south of Iceland on the northeastern point of Vestmannaeyjar, an archipelago containing approximately 18 islands, is the tiny island of Elliðaey. This land mass is essentially nothing more than a rock with luscious green grass covering its surface. But there’s something on the island that has many people intrigued.
Islands Inspire Legends
For thousands of years, islands have inspired myths and legends like the sunken island of Atlantis.Generally, a myth or a legend begins by word of mouth or a recorded text. Over time, these stories spread and birth new myths and legends within themselves. That’s exactly what happened when a mysterious house appeared out of nowhere on a remote Icelandic Island.
Remote and Uninhabited
Elliðaey Island is located in a remote sector of the world and yet it’s beautiful with its rugged cliffs and greenery. Most would say that this is the most tranquil place on the planet. So, it’s no wonder that someone would want to call this island home. And yet, the ironic part of this story is that no one actually lives on the island. It’s completely uninhabited. Well, not entirely.
Puffins Live There
There is a type of bird species known as Puffins that call this coastal cliff their home. They are considered seabirds that feed on fish and breed by nesting in crevices within the rocks or by burrowing into the soil. Another interesting feature is their large beaks that become bright colored during mating season. But they shed the colorful part once breeding season is over. But that isn’t the reason netizens are going crazy for this island.
There’s something about this island that has intrigued people recently. Unfortunately, like most places located away from the mainland, there’s something that’s as equally dark as it is beautiful about this place. But what secrets does this island hold? Could there be a secret underground lab perhaps? Or a testing facility for viral research?
A Perfect Location for a Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago. The vault is home to pretty much all of the plant seeds on the planet. The purpose of this structure is to protect these seeds so that in the event of a natural or man-made disaster they can be reintroduced into the soil. But the island was not home to a seed vault.
A Radioactive Facility
A radioactive facility on this island would have made a lot of sense too. Since there was no population, a group of scientists could have easily relocated to the island and worked on nuclear experiments without having to worry about harming a human population. But nuclear testing has never been conducted on Elliðaey Island.
The importance of virology has increased in recent years. This type of research allows scientists to better understand how viruses work and how they can be neutralized. Now most viral research facilities contain samples of some of the deadliest viral strains on the planet. It’s why establishing a viral research outpost on the island would make perfect sense. But neither the Icelandic government nor any other world power has claimed the island for this purpose.
The Mystery Deepened
Nuclear and viral research were all off the table regarding the purpose of this island. This only deepened the mystery as to the purpose of the island. More importantly, everyone was very curious about the person or persons who might actually be living in this allegedly uninhabited piece of land. But if it is uninhabited, why is there a house?
There is a House
There is only one property. It’s a tiny white house that looks similar to a farm house on the island. This has surprised a lot of people since the island is deserted. So, if there’s no one living here, then who built this house and what purpose would it serve? These were some of the questions people have asked themselves over the years and many theories have popped up about this perplexing building.
The Neighboring Landmass is Settled
Although Elliðaey Island is uninhabited (or is it?), the neighboring island known as Heimaey has a human population of approximately 4,500. It’s also the largest island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. So, if thousands of humans live on this island, why have they chosen to stir clear of Elliðaey? Has a sinister secret kept the human population away all these years?
Heimaey Island has a vast puffin population and a generous supply of seafood courtesy of the seawater that surrounds it. It’s thanks to this that the population has been able to grow so fast. But it wasn’t always the peaceful haven that it is today. In fact, nearly 400 years ago, the island had come under attack and the population were caught completely by surprise.
The Algerian Invasion
In July 1627, Algerian pirates invaded the island and pillaged the village for food and other supplies. They also burned the island’s church as well as homes and farms, too. But that was just the start of the nightmare. The pirates also kidnapped or killed 242 of the island’s original inhabitants. The kidnapped islanders were then traded in the slave market and never made it back home.
Some Captives Couldn’t Adjust
While some of the captives learned to adjust to their new lives as slaves, others died on the boat ride to Algeria. Those that survived the trip eventually perished because they couldn’t adjust to the harsh living conditions their captors forced upon them. But a few did manage to escape the pirates and took shelter in the caves along the nearby ocean.
The House Stands Out
It’s the only man-made structure on the island, therefore, the house stands out among the greenery and the rockface that make up the island. Beyond that, there are no roads, electric poles or cell towers on the island. And yet, that doesn’t explain who built the house or why no one bothered to build an entire town. Did something happen to the inhabitants that prevented them from building more?
Speculations Have Run Rampant
Not everyone’s convinced that there’s no one living on the island or in that tiny house. This has caused a lot of speculations to form. Many have wondered why someone would choose to live in such an isolated area. Are they running from the law or are they trying to avoid a plague? These are just some of the questions that have crossed people’s minds. And it’s easy to see why given the area’s unsettling history.
The Island’s History Has Dark Pages
There are a lot of dark pages in the archipelago’s past. Archipelago is another name for the Westman Islands, of which Elliðaey is a part of. According to history books, Ingolfr Arnarson, a slave owner, brought his family to Iceland. But two of his slaves escaped and wound up on the Westman Islands. Unfortunately, Arnarson hunted these runaways down and got rid of them.
They Were Known as Westmen
The two runaway slaves had escaped from Ireland, which was once believed to be the outermost western landmass. But Iceland’s discovery completely changed that way of thinking. Regardless, the Irish were called “Westmen” and then these two men discovered the islands during their escape attempt. This is why they are now called the Westman Islands. But had they been the only men bold enough to make a break for it?
A Save Haven
Had other slaves escaped and established a colony on Elliðaey long ago? Had it become a safe haven for these people all these centuries? And was it possible that their descendants were not aware that the world had become more accepting? These were all interesting notions to consider, but it wasn’t anywhere close to the real secrets behind the island.
Things Got Better by the 20th Century
Slavery and the invasion of the Algerian pirates were dark moments in the Westman Islands’ history. Fortunately, things had gotten much better by the 20th century, and the islands eventually connected with the mainland. But just as humanity appeared to become more civilized in this region, a natural disaster threatened to alter the lives of the Heimaey Island inhabitants.
A Dormant Volcano Erupted
Inhabitants living near a dormant volcano know that they might someday erupt. But for years, a volcano on the island of Heimaey had remained undiscovered so that locals had no idea they were sitting on a proverbial bomb waiting to go off at any moment. So, for years, the volcano had slept peacefully. Then, in 1974, the volcano erupted and threatened to destroy all life on the island.
The Volcano Posed a Serious Threat
The volcano unleashed tons of molten lava on the islands of Heimaey, not to mention a bunch of toxic chemicals. And as the hot magma continued to spread on the island, the inhabitants took action. It turns out that the islanders already had a plan in place in case the island was ever threatened by a natural disaster. Luckily, their plan worked and no one died. But what about their homes?
They Pumped Seawater on the Lava
Lava flow runs hot at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so it can melt pretty much anything its path. However, authorities had an idea that they implemented right away. Instead of panicking, they pumped seawater on the lava. This not only allowed the lava to cool off, but it redirected the flow away from the human settlement. But the island didn’t come out entirely unscathed.
Not Every Islander Returned
The eruption destroyed approximately 20 percent of the buildings on the island, but there were no fatalities. Unfortunately, some of the inhabitants who were evacuated opted to look for a safer place to live and didn’t return to the island. But according to the Guide to Iceland website, approximately 85 percent of the original population returned. Had something similar happened in Elliðaey Island? Is that why the island was uninhabited?
There Was a Bright Side
Volcanic eruptions throughout human history have been a source of terrible devastation and a significant loss of life. But there was a bright side to the eruption that occurred in Heimaey. When the lava that was unleashed by the eruption cooled, it formed new landmass. And as an added bonus, the volcano brought in revenue from tourists eager to witness this now dormant beast that may one day erupt again.
It’s a Tourist Hotspot
The islands have become a hotspot for tourists, particularly Heimaey where volcano enthusiasts get to examine and take photos of the craters caused by the powerful eruptions. Many visitors are seemingly unafraid of what may go wrong should the volcano become active without a moment’s warning. But the natural wonders of the archipelago have also drawn many visitors as well.
Puffing Watching is Popular
In addition to exploring the volcano in Heimaey, tourists are particularly fond of puffing-watching in the Westman Islands. In fact, it’s considered a fairly popular activity, especially during the spring and summer months where puffins stroll through the sea stacks and island cliffs by the truck loads. But they’re not the only form of wildlife that folks come to these islands to see.
The Sea Life is Pretty Impressive
Although tourists love to observe puffins in their natural habitat, there are lots of other less dominant bird species on the island and that’s not all. The sea life out here is breathtaking as well. Tourists will likely spot all types of amazing creatures such as fin whales, which is the second largest animal to ever live, humpback whales, and even orcas, better known as killer whales, which are commonly recognized by their black and white patterns.
The Animals Outweigh Humans
The animal population outweigh the number of humans living in the Westman Islands. As we mentioned earlier, Heimaey is the only island with a permanent human settlement. All the other islands have tourists going in and out but not permanent residents. And Elliðaey is one of those islands that have remained relatively untouched by humanity. So, what is the world’s loneliest house doing on that island?
The House May Belong to a Billionaire
One rumor claims that the house was built by a billionaire who wanted to move to this remote island in case there ever was a real-life zombie apocalypse. Of course, no one has actually named the billionaire but it could be anyone from Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk to Bill Gates or even Mark Zuckerberg. But none of them seem like the type to actually believe in zombies. Then again, this wasn’t the only theory swirling around.
It May Be Bjork’s Getaway Retreat
One popular theory was that the house belonged to Icelandic singer Bjork, who brought us hit songs like “Army of Me” and “It’s Oh So Quiet.” According to rumors, the Icelandic government had given her the house and the island to her as a gift. But as amazing as this would have been for Bjork, the theory was eventually debunked. So where did the misconception come from?
Newspaper Reports Added Fuel
The media doesn’t always get things right either. Some newspapers claimed that Bjork had been looking for an island for herself. She reportedly wanted to build a recording studio so she could continue working on her music in peace and solitude, which the island definitely offered. So, the story went that the singer was negotiating with the Icelandic government. But a speech from the prime minister had also given people the wrong impression.
The Misconception Came From a Speech
In 2000, the Icelandic prime minister claimed that he would be open to allowing Bjork to live on an island in Breiðafjörður, also named Elliðaey. So naturally, people assumed that it had actually happened. But the prime minister was just fanboying the singer and never made good on the claim, and the reason why he didn’t wasn’t because he didn’t want it to happen.
Bjork Never Got Her Wish
Did Bjork ever get her wish to own an island of her own? No. Despite her popularity, her money, and her influence, the Icelandic public was very much against the singer getting her own island. So, in the end, she was forced to give up on her dream and move on to bigger and better things. Eventually, the theory of her owning the loneliest house on the planet also died down, but another one popped up. Could the house have belonged to a loner?
A Hermit Lives There
Another theory claims that a religious hermit lives in the house. Now a hermit is a person who lives in seclusion as a form of religious discipline. This definitely sounded like a plausible theory since the house was situated on an uninhabited island with no one around except for a bunch of puffins. But there was another rumor that suggested that the house wasn’t what it appeared to be.
Digital Illusion Reigns Supreme
In today’s world, people digitally alter themselves with programs like Photoshop so that they can look like a nicer version of themselves. Sometimes, they’ll even Photoshop themselves in front of exotic locations to make it seem like they’re vacationing or photo shooting in another country. But in some cases, they go overboard with the digital editing and the illusion becomes too obvious to social media followers. But was that what this house was?
The House Was Photoshopped
Some people claimed that there was no way anyone could live inside that tiny house because it simply didn’t exist. They claimed that the property was Photoshopped into the Elliðaey Island’s landscape and then published online where it went viral and sparked all sorts of intrigue. But that wasn’t the case either.
Someone Was on the Island
Someone had to be on the island because the house didn’t magically appear out of thin air. But who was it? And if they were still living here then why hadn’t anyone seen them? Surely, satellite footage would have caught someone walking in or out of the property. There were so many questions and very little answers. But there was one thing everyone knew. The island wasn’t always as uninhabited as it is today.
300 Years Ago
Elliðaey Island was inhabited approximately 300 years ago. There were five families who called this landmass home. To survive, they raised livestock like cattle and caught fish. Hunting puffins was also not out of the question, especially when the need to feed was great. But what happened to the people who used to live here? Surely, they had descendants who would continue to care for the island.
The Last Residents
For centuries, the five families had lived on the island, but by the 1930s, the remaining residents decided it was time to do what their ancestors hadn’t done. They left the island and rejoined the rest of the world. From that point on, the island remained uninhabited. But why did they live the island that had become their ancestral home for so many years? Had something driven them away?
Life on the Island Became Difficult
Although initially living on the island seemed like a good idea, the people there found it difficult to continue to raise livestock and go fishing. Living on the island was also lonely. At that point, they realized that they had no other choice but to find a place where life would be easier. But it was not the last time humans would stomp their feet around here.
The Island Was Ignored for a While
While some folks might find it interesting to explore an uninhabited island, and the Icelandic coast is certainly beautiful, the fishermen who happened to take their boats near the abandoned landmass found it to be relatively boring and uninteresting because it lacked any buildings or major vegetation. But someone obviously found something appealing about the island since they decided to build a property on it.
The House Was Real
The house was real but the story behind its construction wasn’t quite as mysterious as people made it seem. For starters, some folks would conclude that the house was built by the five families that once lived here. But they actually lived in huts. Another interesting tidbit is that the mysterious house that has everyone talking wasn’t built until after these original settlers left.
The House Was a Hunting Base
It was built by the Elliðaey Hunting Association to serve as a hunting base for those who come to the island to hunt for puffins and steal their eggs. But anyone expecting this home to have all the amenities of a five-star or even a four-star or three-star retreat is going to be very disappointed for some very big reasons.
No Basic Amenities
Unlike some hunting lodges, the house on the island doesn’t have any of the creature comforts that hunters would come to expect like electricity. The property doesn’t have any indoor plumbing or running water either. But it does have a sauna which remains filled by rainwater. But hunters aren’t the only people who are known to step foot on this island.
There’s a Tour
It turns out that the house everyone thought was an illusion is not only very much real, but there are tours available for anyone who is interested in visiting the island and exploring the natural beauty. But those that do will have to respect the land as the island is listed a natural reserve. And yet, there are no rules against protecting the most adorable aspects that walk this land.
The Grim Concept
Despite the island being a natural reserve, the grim concept about what goes on in this island is disturbing. Puffins are charming and defenseless creatures. They only come to the island to breed and feed. They certainly don’t come here to be slaughtered and have their young taken from them. And yet, this is their sad reality as humanity continues to do what it does most which is to pillage and disrupt the Earth’s natural environment.
The Puffins Are in Danger
Puffins as a species have been put in danger by humanity, particularly on the island where the world’s loneliest house exists. Conservationists fear that hunters on the island may have had a harmful effect on the population because puffins have a slow reproductive cycle. To make matters worse, humans don’t just hunt puffins for sport.
Puffin Meat is a Culinary Delight
The demand for puffin meat is at an all-time high in many Icelandic and Faroe Island kitchens. And since 90 percent of the puffin population is located in Europe and 60 percent of them journey to Iceland during mating season, the risk to their well-being increases. If measures aren’t taken to preserve this gentle bird species, they may become extinct someday.
The Island Welcomes Everyone
The mystery of the house can be easily solved with a Google search, but the stories behind its origin have continued to intrigue travelers far and wide. Fortunately, there is no cost to visit the island and people have even been known to stay here for a couple of days to relax and destress from the everyday problems of the world.