Svartalfheim (Niðavellir) in Norse Mythology

are svartalheim and nidavellir the same
Norse mythology describes Svartalfheim as one of the nine realms of the world tree, also known as Nidavellir. This is the home of the dwarves, the master craftsmen of Norse legends. 

Dwarves are master smiths and craftsmen who live below the ground, and so, Nidavellir or Svartalfheim was probably viewed as a labyrinthine, subterranean mine, and forge complex.

Read on to learn about this mystical place the dwarves call home.

Svartalfheim: Dwarves Territory

Located deep in the earth below Midgard, Nidavellir/Svartalfheim was the home of the dwarves who worked in their forges there. A dark and smoky place, only the torches on the walls and the fires from the forge illuminate it. 

Dwarves’ territory appears to have been determined by the gods based on Snorri’s account of their origins in the Gylfafinning (Prose Edda).

Historically, the dwarves were associated with craftsmanship and magic. They created Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, Odin’s spear, and Freyr’s magic ship, which could be folded up and carried in his pocket.

So What is Svartalfheim the realm of?

Svartalfheim is the realm of the dark elves.

In the Prose Edda, Svartalfheim is only mentioned twice. Initially, the gods go to that realm in search of chains strong enough to bind Loki’s monstrous wolf son, Fenrir.

In the second scenario, Loki discovers and captures Andvari to seize his cursed gold. In surviving sources, the svartálfr (inhabitants of Svartalfheim) are only mentioned once, this time in the Poetic Edda. They are referred to as Ivaldi’s sons.

When Loki must replace Sif’s hair with gold, he seeks out the sons of Ivaldi for their crafting abilities. The gods receive two other gifts from them, Odin’s precise spear and Freyr’s magical ship.

All of these stories are set in what is known as the land of the black elves, but they do not seem to concern beings we would think of as elves.

Freya in the dwarves cave
Freya in the dwarves cave, source: Jennifer Tanabe at Wiki

Is Svartalfheim the dark world?

Asgardians and other inhabitants of the nine realms refer to it as “The Dark World,” while dark elves refer to it as “Harudheen.” 

The nine realms of Norse mythology are Niflheim, Muspelheim, Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, and Helheim. 

Who lives in Svartalfheim?

Although most people agree that the beings who live in Svartalfheim are dwarves, Sturluson refers to them as “dark elves” or “black elves,” which may confuse some Norse mythology readers. According to general consensus, the inhabitants of Svartalfheim are dwarves. 

Traditionally, dwarfs are described as short, stocky, and extremely skilled craftsmen. Most of the fantastic things that belong to the gods, such as Odin’s magic ring and spear, were made by them.

Among these are Thor’s hammer, Freyr’s collapsible ship, and the ribbon-like chain that binds Fenrir, the mighty wolf. 

Sturluson describes the dwarves as being inky black in his Prose Edda, although not all tales portray them in this manner.

Apparently, they originated from the maggots found in Ymir’s rotting flesh after Odin and his brothers killed him.

Besides being craftsmen, they are also magical creatures, and many old tales portray them as shapeshifters. Additionally, they are sensitive to the sun’s rays. 

Who ruled Svartalfheim?

Before he was killed, Hreidmar was king of Svartalfheim, which means dark fields in Old Norse. 

Norse mythology describes Hreidmarr or Hreidmar as a sorcerer. He appears in both the Völsunga saga and the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson.

Regin, Fafnir, Hergheir, and Lofnheir were the children of Hreidmarr. During his lifetime, he owned a house made of glittering gold and flashing gems, built by Regin and guarded by Fafnir.

After Loki accidentally killed Otr, Æsir gave Hreimarr Andvari’s gold and the magical ring Andvaranaut, which could create gold. 

However, Andvari had cursed the ring so that anyone possessing it would suffer misfortune and destruction.

Hreidmarr ignored Loki’s warnings about the curse and kept the ring, only to be killed by Fafnir and Regin later on.

What are elves in Norse mythology like?

In Norse mythology and legend, elves are basically good fairies and bad fairies. 

As a general rule, those who are aligned with the gods might be trusted for assistance or, at the very least, a peaceful and reasonable interaction, while those who are not are corrupt and wicked and should be avoided at all costs.

How old are the Dark Elves?

It appears that the dark elves are extremely long-lived, possibly even immortal.

Malekith, Algrim, and other dark elves who survived the first battle of Svartalfheim were adults at the beginning of the first Convergence and still had not seen any signs of aging at the time of the second one.


Ana has always been interested in all things Norse mythology, Vikings and tales of ancient Germanic myths. An avid reader of books on Norse mythology, she also enjoys watching movies and TV shows based on Viking culture, and she secretly watched every Norse god-inspired MCU production as well!

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