There is a park on the corner of Aðalstræti and Kirkjustræti which is called Fógetagarðurinn or The Governor's park named after Skúli Magnússon, governor.
Skúli Magnússon was the Icelandic governor and the founder of industry in Reykjavík in 1752. He raised wool-factories in Aðalstræti, which was the beginning of Reykjavík becoming a town in 1786.
The park stands on the oldest cemetary in Reykjavík, Víkurkirkjugarður cemetary, which dates back to the settlement of Iceland in ca 874 and there up to 30 generations have been laid to rest. Some of them died from smallpox. Thi is the cemetary of the first settler, Ingólfur Arnarson. There are some headstones here with Danish inscriptions from back when we had a Danish king.
In the olden days there was a parish church in the cemeraty which is believed to have dated back to the beginning of Christianity in Iceland in year 1000. Víkurkirkja church stood here from 1200-1798. This cemetary was in use until 1839 when Hólavallakirkjugarður cemetary was taken into use, but that cemetary is a little further south of the old cemetary. That is my family cemetary.
Now there are 3 cemetaries in Reykjavík, apart from Hólavallakirkjugarður cemetary there is Fossvogskirkjugarður and Gufuneskirkjugarður in the suburbs of Reykjavík. As you might have noticed "kirkjugarður" is the Icelandic name for a cemetary, literally church-yard.
The park has been changed somewhat since I was a teenager but then the teenagers used to get drunk in this area and it seems to me that there were a lot more tombstones there than now. In the cemetary/park is the oldest tree in Reykjavík, a Swedish whitebeam dating back from 1884, which was elected The Reykjavík tree by the mayor in 2010.
The majority of the Icelandic nation is of the Christian Lutheran religion but ca 9.351 are Catholics (2008). There are several Catholic churches in Iceland, the biggest one in Reykjavík is The Catholic Cathedral, in Icelandic called "Dómkirkja Krists konungs" or "Landakotskirkja".
The cornerstone of the Cathedral was raised in 1927 and it was consegrated in 1929 by Cardinal van Rossum, which was Pope Pius XI envoy. It is dedicated to Jesus Christ and bears his name "Christ the King". Pope Pius IX gave to the Cathedral as a present a statue of Christ on the world.
Outside the Cathedral to the right is a bust of Bishop Meulenberb 1872-1941, who was in charge of building the Cathedral. He was the first Catholic bishop in Iceland since the change of the religion from Catholicism to Lutheranism.
To the left of the Cathedral is a statue in homage to the Josephsisters nuns.
There is a mass in English on Sundays at 18h and at other times in Icelandic, Latin and Polish (see their website).
The Cathedral is open from 7:30-18:30.
Beside the Cathedral is Landakotsskóli, Catholic school, which was founded in 1896 and is one of the oldest operating schools in Iceland.
In my opinion this is one of the most beautiful churches in Reykjavík, the Lutheran churches of course are beautiful, but less decorated. I have taken many VT-members for a visit to the cathedral.
Hallgrímskirkja is the main church in Reykjavik and it means 'the church of Hallgrimur.' Hallgrímur is Hallgrímur Pétursson, an Icelandic 17th century priest who wrote some famous hymns. What is spectaculat about this church is its modern architecture (in particular the spire-like design of the tower) and it's location, slightly up on a hill overloking the centre of the city.
There's an elevator to the top of the tower and from there you have magnificent views over the colourful roofs of Reykjavik.
There is a lovely little chapel close to Perlan, you will notice it by the road east of Öskjuhlíð, the hill where Perlan stands. It is dedicated to the great YMCA founder and leader in Iceland, Friðrik Friðriksson (born in 1868) who founded YMCA in Reykjavík in 1899. The chapel stands by the Valur stadium as Friðrik Friðriksson was the founder of that sports club as well.
Friðrikskapella chapel was opened on 25th of May 1993.
The Orthodox church uses the chapel for its mass as well.
I add the website to YMCA in Iceland, we call it KFUM. I add this tip here as it might be of interest to those of us who are members of YMCA or YWCA.
I love walking and I did so a lot in Reykjavik! And I do sometimes see nice places for picture taking and I found a little hill beside a church which gave a nice view of Reykjavik --- it was a beautiful church on Hategsvegur (corner Noatun?). I could have just made a tip on this church because it is really of beautiful architecture – but this is more a tip for that little hill overlook by it. There also seems to be a school right beside this church – whose name I did not even look at! But I do know that a lot of Icelanders are Protestant.
On the little hill is just grass and lots of little yellow flowers and I enjoyed taking pictures on that June spring afternoon! It was fun…hope you find it too when you are walking in Reykjavik – the church also has a little “image of itself” on the maps handed out on Reykjavik.
When viewing Reykjavik from a height, such as from the Perlan or from Hallgrimskirkja church tower, you cannot fail to notice the spires of Háteigskirkja chuch. The church which is a short walk from the city centre has a disticively Icelandic appearance. The tall, dark spires of the white building and arched windows make a nice addition to the city skyline, especially when framed against the backdrop of Mt. Esja.
However, the interior of the church is not as interesting as the exterior apart from two mosaics by Benedikt Gunnarsson.
The church was consecrated on the 19th of December 1965 by the bishop of Iceland Sigurbjörn Einarsson and was built to a design by Halldór H. Jónsson.
OK its a church but the Free Church of Reykjavik is now over 100 years old.
More than just a nice example of local architecture this church was an important focus for local people in their struggle for independence. At one time around half the the population of Reykjavik were members.
With its location next to the Pond, the Frikirkjan is one of the most photogenic churches in Reykjavik, if not necessarily the most important architecturally or historically. It dates to around the turn of the 20th century and is part of the Lutheran church. It is made mostly of corrugated tin and wood, typical of Icelandic construction.
The interior is simple and bright with a nice pipe organ on the rear wall.
This church is located just outside of the old city. It is a beautiful example of the 1920's art deco architecture that Reykjavik is full of, and which happens to be my most favorite architectural style. You are allowed to go inside the church as look around if you like.
This is The Cathedral ! One of the beautiful structures in Reykjavik.
It was consecrated in 1929, dedicated to Jesus Christ.
It looks so gothic & I wouldn't imagine that I would catch such a sight in Reykjavik !Read More About The Cathedral...
Reykjavik was the first place in Iceland to be settled. Now, it is also known as 'The Smokeless City' thanks to its winds & reliance on geothermal heat...
Another photo on the Austurvollur Square; There are many flowers...& you can see The Cathedral or Domkirkja on this photo also...
We walked inland from the harbour and ended up at the Catholic Church. This lovely building was beautiful on the outside and serene and peaceful on the inside.
Stopped by here on the way back to the airport, very nice looking place from the outside, the inside is very stark and bare, but still very nice on its own. A nice statue of leaf erricssion out from.
Before the church Hallgrímskirkja (see previous tip), there is this statue dedicated to Leifur Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, who discovered Greenland around 1.000.
The organ in Hallgrim's church is a big one and worth a visit. It is build by a Dutch company and is the only decoration is a very beautiful but sober church.