The Cupstone, a piece of artwork made from a rock has given welcome relief to many tired legs on the outskirts of Iceland’s capital.
During the cold winter there is nothing like immersing yourself in warm water, be it flowing on your feet or around other parts of the body and now, you can have the highly unusual experience of hot water flowing from the middle of a huge rock, thanks to Ólöf Nordal, a renowned Icelandic artist. In walking distance from the center of Reykjavík, this particular artwork, known as Cupstone, a large rock with flowing warm water, is on the northern coastline on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula.
Cupstone is a great venue to rest and rejuvenate after a long day. Along the very picturesque walking path around the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, you can enjoy it at sunrise, during the day or if you are lucky, watching the northern lights, with your feet all warm and cozy.
“When you feel the warmth of the water on your feet, the blood rushes through your body, making you feel physically and spiritually alive, and closer to nature and its wondrous powers,” says Ólöf about this extraordinary piece of art and its marvelous effects.
Water from a drilled hole in the vicinity is cooled from 99 degrees Celcius to 40 degrees and then runs into the rock through piping. The water has a unique blend of water and salt, resembling water from the well-known spas in Baaden Baden in Germany. According to Olof the water in Cupstone has healing powers and a great Ph factor for the skin.
The rock used for Cupstone was found after much search in a mine, way out of town and moved in place. Olof, who wanted exactly the right shape and size, carefully searched to find the right piece. The rock she found is gray basalt and as the stone is actually artwork too; it had to be the perfect form.
Olof is well known for her artwork, mixing Icelandic traditions and culture with natural surroundings and modern times. It was important to her that the rock did not disturb the contour of the land, in the place she found for it, and that it harmonized with the geography of the coastline.
Making the water flowing rock was no easy task. It could have easily cracked when parts of the inside were removed. With patience and precision, the stonecutters at S. Helgason dug into the middle, making adequate space for 3-4 pairs of tired feet. It is part of the bathing experience to take your shoes and socks off, dig into the warmth of the Cupstone and stand barefoot on the rocks and grass around, before and after a dip.
“When you undress in nature, even if it is just for a foot bath you respectfully connect to your surroundings with your body and other senses. As you warm up to nature, your body becomes part of it, feeling all the elements on so many levels,” says Olof.
Not all locals know about the Cupstone and that was the idea in the beginning, so that people would gradually discover it. There is lighting inside the stone that creates a special ambience during dark days and nights of winter. In many ways bathing is a big part of Iceland’s history and culture, as can be seen from various natural and manmade geothermal pools all over the country.
“With cold feet, we don’t have our head on straight. With warm feet you don’t feel the cold or wind around you anymore and the blood rushing through your veins clears the mind. Soaking your feet in this hot rock lets you experience the elements of the land, sea, sky and earth as a whole, but you need to actually do it to understand this awesome experience,” says Olof.