Though a modern church building, Hallgrimskirkja has become one of the main landmarks of Iceland's capital. Construction began ain 1945 and was finished in 1986, but the tower was already completed in 1975. Some say the style resembles Iceland's nature of rocks and ice, for me it is just plain white and grey. There are a couple of colourful spots though, including the stained glas windows and the massive organ which is the largest in Iceland. Hallgrimskirkja is named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, a 17th century poet and clergyman, known for his hymns.
The church visit itself is free, access to the tower was 700 ISK (2014). If you like looking over a whole city, this is worth it – there is no better to do this in Reyjavik. However, be aware that it can get pretty windy and cold upstairs.
At the end of the visit, do not forget to pay attention to the Leif Eriksson monument (see separate tip) in front of the church. Also, a visit at night during summer time is interesting when the sun doesn't really set and the church is covered in an interesting light.
Hallgrímskirkja is the major landmark of Reykjavík. High on a hill it can be seen for miles. It is impressive. My sister asked what denomination is this church? We got puzzled stares from people we asked, who eventually came up with "protestant," which we figured out was Lutheran. The church has an austere interior which I like, but my sister thought it plain and bare. The organ has beautiful pipes and you can hear the organ if you attend services which are held in Icelandic and English. Admission to the church is free (donations accepted) but to go up in the tower is 700 ISK, payable in the gift shop. Interesting is that the statue in front of Leifur Eiriksson was a gift from the USA to celebrate the 1000 year anniversary of the parliament (930). It predates the church which began construction 15 years later.
Hallgrímskirkja stands out from any part of Reykjavik and is one of the most visited sites in all of Iceland …. there is no entrance fee but 700 ISK to access the top of the church … be warned … the top is open to the elements so come prepared …. but you will get some of the best views anywhere. Inside the church the massive organs stand out ….
The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson.
It took 38 years to build the church. Construction work began in 1945 and ended in 1986, the landmark tower being completed long before the church's actual completion.
We were there 15 minutes and saw everything …..
A must do in Reykjavik
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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"