Iceland's Sacred Public Pools
Every Icelandic town, no matter how small, has its own pool. There are ramshackle cement rectangles squatting under rain clouds in the sheep-strewn boonies. There are fancy aquatic complexes with multilevel hot tubs and awesomely dangerous waterslides of the sort that litigious American culture would never allow. All told, there are more than 120 public pools—usually geothermally heated, mostly outdoors, open all year long—in Iceland, a country with a population just slightly larger than that of Lexington, Ky. … These public pools, or sundlaugs, serve as the communal heart of Iceland, sacred places whose affordability and ubiquity are viewed as a kind of civil right. Families and teenagers and older people lounge and chat in sundlaugs every day, summer or winter.
From “The Water Cure," by Dan Kois in The New York Times Magazine, 2016; Photos by Massimo Vitali
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