Floating lake Sørvágsvatn – where reality intertwines with illusion


Our planet is full of amazing nooks and crannies that captivate with their extraordinary beauty. It is these places that attract, providing an opportunity to explore the unknown and enjoy unique views. One such mysterious attraction is undoubtedly Sørvágsvatn. This lake, located in the picturesque Faroe Islands, appears at first glance to be suspended high above a cliff, as if it were about to fall into the ocean. It is this optical illusion, in which the water appears to be at a higher level than the surrounding land, that gives the place its unique character, one of the most mesmerizing in the world. Such a view makes many of us ask ourselves: is this really just a lake?

Location of Lake Sørvágsvatn

Sørvágsvatn, with an area of about 3.4 km², is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, a Danish autonomous territory located in the North Sea. It is about 6 kilometers long, and its width varies from 0.5 to 2 kilometers. The average depth of the lake is 27.5 meters, and the maximum depth is roughly 59 meters. It is located on the island of Vágar, which is the third largest in the Faroese archipelago. The 177-square-kilometer area is home to 3,500. individuals. It is worth mentioning that Vágar is home to the only airport in the entire archipelago, known as Vágar Lufthavn. It is a key transportation link for residents and tourists who visit the islands. In addition to Sørvágsvatn, there is also the second largest lake in the Faroe Islands, Fjallavatn. This adds to the island’s already high tourist appeal.

Sørvágsvatn has gained popularity because of the unique view it offers visitors. It appears to be well above sea level, with the picturesque, endless Atlantic Ocean on the horizon. But in fact, despite its apparent height, the lake lies just off the shore of the island, about 32 meters above sea level, with which it is connected by the small Bøsdalafossur waterfall. This fascinating optical effect is the result of its location on a high cliff that separates the lake from the ocean. It is not only one of the most picturesque places in the Faroe Islands, but also a popular tourist attraction, attracting numerous visitors from all over the world.

How to see Lake Sørvágsvatn?

The picturesque location of Lake Sørvágsvatn makes many of us want to see it. It can be accessed via a convenient hiking path starting near Miðvágur. It leads to a waterfall and to the Trælanípa cliff, from where there is the best view of the lake and the sea cliffs. The name “Trælanípa” in the Farer language means “slave cliff” or “slave rock” and has its roots back in Viking times. According to tradition, they threw disobedient or no longer needed slaves off this 142-meter cliff, condemning them to death in the sea depths.

One lake, three names

Sørvágsvatn is the official name, which is most likely related to the charming village of Sørvágur, located on the west coast of Vágar Island. This naming reflects the site’s deep geographic and cultural connection to the local community. The lake is also known as Leitisvatn. That’s how the residents of the nearby town of Miðvágur describe them. The alternative name is derived from an area called Leiti, which is located near the reservoir.

Interestingly, the Faroese also use the generic term Vatnið, which simply means “lake” in Faroese. They are commonly used by residents throughout the archipelago. All of these names, Sørvágsvatn, Leitisvatn and Vatnið, not only indicate different geographical and historical aspects, but also reflect the cultural richness of the Faroese people.

Dark legends and mysterious creatures from Lake Sørvágsvatn

The people of the Faroe Islands tell fascinating legends related to Lake Sørvágsvatn, which add even more mystery to the place. One of the stories focuses on the Huldufollies, elves who live under rocks. According to the story, one of their houses was locked by a priest, and cries and lamentations have been heard from it ever since. Beliefs in these creatures are so strong that road routes in the archipelago were designed to avoid the rocks and not disturb their inhabitants.

Another legend tells of a mysterious creature called Nykur or Nix, which takes the form of a beautiful horse. The creature lures people and then drags them into the depths of the lake. To avoid danger, all you have to do is call the creature by name, which strips it of its power and makes it disappear.

Sørvágsvatn is not only the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, which allows us to admire unique optical effects, but also a place where nature intertwines with legends to create a fascinating world. It is here, on the edge of Europe, that we can experience the beauty and mystery of nature, as well as immerse ourselves in the rich culture and history of the region.

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