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Hallgrimskirkja is the tallest and most impressive building in Reykjavic. It was designed to imitate a volcanic eruption and some say it also resembles a rocket ship.
It was begun in 1947 but not finished until 1986. The exterior is striking and impressive whilst the inside is calm and peacefully plain.
The 250 foot tower cost 700 ISK (£4) to climb and it gives amazing views over the bay and the city.
Rising towards the sky (and heaven)
During the guided city tour we had seen the magnificent Halgrimskirkja and had spent just a few minutes there, not enough by far. So we went back and took the time to look at it properly.
The way it is built and the colour are said to resemble the Icelandic landscape, with rocks and glaciers. To me it also seems to point directly towards heaven with its upwards rising structure.
As a Lutheran church the inside is unobtrusive with one part dominated by a beautiful glass window showing Mary and her son .
In the hallway there were two rows with flowerpots under special lamps and we wondered what this was about . Maybe to grow some plants in time for Christmas?
Hallgrímskirkja - the observatory at the tower.
The tower with the observatory is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm in winter time and 9 to 9 pm in summer time. The price is 700 ISK for adults and 100 ISK for children 7 to 14 years old. You buy the tickets from the church-shop on the left hand side inside the church. The view is breathtaking, you can see all of Reykjavík from it really, the Atlantic ocean, the mountains, the mountain Esjan being the closest to Reykjavík. There is also a fantastic view of Snæfellsjökull glacier from the tower. The church bells ring every 15 minutes so be aware of that. From time to time the church bells play tunes, which is lovely really.
There is an elevator to the top. In 2013 more than 100.000 people visited the church tower. Ca 25% of church visitors go up to the tower. The income from the tower keeps Hallgrímskirkja open to visitors.
In front of the church is a statue of Leifur Eiriksson "Leifur heppni" meaning "Leif the lucky", the first European to discover America around 1.000 A.D. On the back of the statue is written: "Leifr Eiricsson, son of Iceland, discoverer of Vinland. The United States of America to the people of Iceland on the one thousandth anniversary of the Althing A.D. 1930." I apologize for the quality of the photo of Leifur Eiríksson. This was my first tip here on VT and my camera wasn´t all too good - plus that the photo is taken while it was snowing - but I want to keep that photo as a reminder of my very first tip here on VT :)
Across the street opposite the church is Hotel Leifur Eiríksson and our airport is named after Leifur Eiríksson as well "Flugstöð Leifs Eiríkssonar".
From the shore of the lake at the east direction this modern church you can see already from the distance, this church is the most important 'landmark' of Reykjavík
Some of the roads in the center lead to the 38 meter high hill Skolavorouholt which the church is located
If you looked at it from the distance this church looks like a rocket , but up close you can see that basalt columns are the inspiration for the architectural form of the façade and the 73 meter tower of the church
The interior looked like the Lutheran church with its high concrete columns quite sober minimize light the architecture is more like Gothic , but not exactly
The acoustics in the church is of exceptional quality the showpiece of the church is also the organ , which was placed in 1992 by the firm of Johannes Klais Orgelbau from Bonn ( Germany ) the organ has 72 stops and 5275 pipes the instrument is 15 meters high and weighs 25 tons the bells of the church is cast by the Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in Asten in the Netherlands
This huge church with its tall tower is visible all over the city. The church was started in 1937 and finished in 1986. The church is named after Hallgrimur Petursson who wrote many Icelandic hymns. The building is very impressive from the outside and very plain inside. There is a statue of Leifur Eriksson in front of the church. Entry to the church is free but it costs 600 kroner to go up the tower. You go up in a lift with a few stairs at the end. There are lovely views from the tower.
- Religious Travel
Hallgrímskirkja - church - Reykjavík's landmark.
Hallgrímskirkja is our biggest church (kirkja=church) and is named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, a reverend and hymn writer (1614-1674) who wrote the beautiful hymns "Passíusálmar" which are Iceland's most popular hymns (apart from the National anthem) and very dear to our Icelanders.
Hallgrímskirkja is 73 m tall and was our biggest building until recently, when we got our first "sky scraper" :) The church stands on a hill, Skólavörðuholt, which is situated in the center of the city and is visible from all over Reykjavík and surrounding areas, making it a great landmark. It is the building in Iceland which took the longest time to build. The former state architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, got the plans for the church in 1937 and it was totally finished only in 1986, but long before that it was taken into use. It was consecrated on the 26th of October 1986 on Reykjavík´s 200th anniversary, so it just celebrated its 25th anniversary (2011).
The plan for the church was to make it resemble volcanic basalt rock formations. In December 1992 the church got its pipe-organ which is 15 m tall and weighs 25 tons with 5275 pipes, making it by far the largest church organ in Iceland. Notice the sculpture of Christ below the organ in my picture, which was made by Einar Jónsson, one of our most famous artists. He donated this sculpture to the church in 1948. His museum is across the street from Hallgrímskirkja, I have made a tip on his museum as well.
Opening hours in Hallgrímskirkja: Every day from 9am - 5pm. I made an additional tip on visiting the tower of the church.
If you want to go to services you can visit the church at 11 o' clock on Sundays. It is a Lutheran church as are most of our churches in Iceland. There are also concerts in the church from time to time and the church has a remarkable choir "Mótettukórinn".
It is estimated that during the high season a 1.000 people visit the church. It has got the "wow" factor, I would say, and more than one of VT'ers I have taken around Reykjavík has said "wow" when seeing Hallgrímskirkja church ;) I visited it with VT-member Balhannah in May 2013 and we listened to a lovely organ concert.
Here is a 360° view of standing in front of Hallgrímskirkja church. And here is a a 360° view of standing beside Hallgrímskirkja church.
This striking and controversial church, designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson, is the structure you are most likely to see when you are in the Reykjavík area. Admire the structure from outside, or make your way inside to appreciate what is there. You can also climb the bell tower to get panoramic views of Reykjavík. The church is open daily from 9AM - 8PM.
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- Religious Travel
The tall tower of the Hallgrimskirkja can be seen from all over Reykjavik. We spotted it as soon as we arrived in the central part of the city, but it was after lunch before we made it there, driving up to it as a detour before leaving to drive to Ranga.
The church is not an old one, as becomes clear when you get close to it. Its construction started in 1945 and was only completed in 1986. It was designed by the state architect Guðjón Samúelsson to imitate the basalt lava flows that are so typical of the Icelandic landscape. The design might be considered controversial as it is not one that appeals to everyone, but I rather liked it. Inside the church is spacious and, unsurprisingly, modern in feel. There is an impressive organ, the biggest in Iceland – 15 metres tall, weighing 25 tons and with 5,275 pipes. It is a recent addition, dating from 1992.
I rather liked the poem on a plaque on the wall in the entrance porch, though I don’t know who wrote it – see photo 5. The church was named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, a 17th century writer of hymns which are still sung today, but this seems too modern and un-hymnlike to be his work.
Hallgrimskirkja - the tower
While I liked the design of the Hallgrimskirkja, I liked even more though the wonderful views to be had from the top of its 73 metre tall tower. For just 500K (adult fee – about £2.50) you can be whisked up to the floor immediately below the steeple bells, and then have just two flights of stairs to climb to the viewing room, from where you can look out in all four directions over the city, its harbour and the surrounding mountains. We spent quite some time up here, marvelling at the views, and only left somewhat reluctantly when we recalled that we still had a drive in front of us that we were determined to do before darkness fell.
The tower is open every day, from 9.00 – 17.00. If you can’t manage the stairs you will still get a bit of a view from the room where the lift arrives, just below the bells, but it’s more restricted than that from above, and you will be almost deafened if the bells strike while you are there!
Lief Ericksson statue
In front of the Hallgrimskirkja is this imposing statue of Liefur Ericksson, donated to the city of Reykjavik by the USA. Lief, also known as Lief the Lucky, was the first European to “discover” America, 500 years before Columbus. The latter may have got a lot of the (undeserved) credit for this discovery, but Lief’s achievements are recognised here in his home country and also in the one where he first set foot, as the inscription on the statue shows:
"Leifr Eiricsson, son of Iceland, discoverer of Vinland, The United States of America to the people of Iceland on the one thousandth anniversary of the Althingi, A.D. 930".
The sculptor was Alexander Stirling Calder, who also carved the one of George Washington on the Washington Square Arch in New York City. In recent years there has been a growing acknowledgement of Ericksson’s discovery, and the 9th October is now recognised as a day of celebration of his achievements by the US Government.
This is my last tip, as we headed back to our car after this for the drive to the Ranga Hotel. You can return to my Intro page, or check out my page about the rest of our experiences in South Iceland.
- Historical Travel
Leif the Lucky - the Icelander who found America.
There is a statue in front of Hallgrímskirkja church of Leifur Eiríksson or "Leif the Lucky". Amercians gave us this statue of Leifur Eiríksson.
Leifur was the son of Eirik the Red and was born at Eiríksstaðir. See my tip on my Iceland page on Eirik the Red and Leif the Lucky and the Saga age farm they lived in. Eirík the Red was chased out of Iceland because of manslaughter and moved to Greenland. Eirík's son, Leif the Lucky sailed to North-America some 500 years before Columbus did, and was the first European to land there - thus it is said that Leif the Lucky "discovered" America and not Columbus in 1492. He returned to Greenland and became a missionary there and his mother built the first church in Greenland.
On the back of the statue of Leifur Eiríksson is written: "Leifr Eiricsson, son of Iceland, discoverer of Vinland, The United States of America to the people of Iceland on the one thousanth anniversary of the Althingi, A.D. 930".
On the 1000th anniversary of the Alping, the USA persented Iceland with this statue of the Viking Leifur Eríksson - the first European to make it to America.
The inscription says "Leifur Eiricsson son of Iceland discoverer of vinland the United States of America to the people of Iceland on the one thousandth anniversary of the Althing AD1930"
- Historical Travel
You can see the church from pratically every angle. It makes a great landmark... not to mention its architecture is rather funky... oh! and modern to... don't go looking for a door handle - you press a button and the door(s) will open for you!
Entrance into the church is free (and it is worth going to have a peek inside).
You can take the lift up to the top (75m high) where you will be afforded splendid views of the city. You do have to pay for this privilege. NB If the "shop" door, inside the church where you buuy the ticket to the lift) is closed - there is a bucket outside it that you throw your money into and then you just go and operate the elevator - no physical ticket is actually required/provided!
There is parking right by the church which is pretty handy if you are in a car.
It took 34 years to build this concrete masterpiece. The architect (Gudjon Samuelsson) died before it was completed. Corners were cut during its building and as a result it needed urgent attention very recently. All building works have been completed.
Hallgrimskirkja Church is Reykjavik's highest and most imposing structure. The church dominates the city and although not real pretty, it is certainly impressive!
The church has a 75 metre high steeple that can be seen 20kms away!!
There was no charge to have a look inside the church. The interior was very stark - white, plain, neat. I actually really liked it....made a nice change from the OTT church interiors I have seen in other European cities. It did however have a massive and impressive organ. When we were there a choir was rehearsing in a room off the chapel, and they sounded great.
The large clock on the outside of the church often shows the wrong time. This is due to strong winds actually blowing the hands of the clock!
The best part of a visit to Hallgrimskirkja is taking the elevator (at a cost of around 300 kroner) to the viewing platform at the top of the steeple. From here you get fabulous views across Reykjavik.
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The Church is a concrete building, designed by Gudjon Samuelson, a former state architect.
It took over 40 years to build and was opened in 1986. It is named after the Reverend Hallgrimur Petursson, a noted hymn writer.
Hallgrimskirkja is the largest church in Iceland. It has a 73 metre high church tower; which provides excellent views over Reykjavik. On the approach to the church is a statue of Iceland-born Leifur Eiriksson, the first European to discover America around 1,000 A.D.
The tower is open daily from 09:00 to 20:00 and offering excellent views over and around Reykjavik.
The church holds services at 11:00 Sundays. The church organ is the largest of its kind in Iceland.
During my visit, they were doing repairs as you can see from the exterior photograph.
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