Worth a visit to this unusual modern cathedral that dominates the skyline of the city. Take the lift to the top for great views across the city and harbour. It is extremely windy up there and in the cold December wind it can be really difficult to take pictures without getting frost bite or shakey pictures!!
One fo the first things that you notice when you first enter Reykjavik is the striking building that overlooks the city. This is the famous Hallgrimskirkja church and it is Reykjavik's main landmark, which is not difficult to understand as it literally jumps out at you wherever you are in the city.
The tower, which stands over 73 metres high, offers great views over the city and the surrounding areas. It is open to the public every day from 09:00 - 20:00, with adults paying about 350 ISK and children between 6 and 12 years old about 50 ISK.
The church itself is the largest church in Iceland. It was designed by Gudjon Samuelson, the former state architect, who took his inspiration from the volcanic basalt rock formations found around Iceland. It contains the biggest organ in Iceland, we were lucky enough to hear it being played. The church was opened in 1986 and is named after Reverend and hymn writer Hallgrimur Petursson.
Not to be missed is the statue in front of the church. It is of the great explorer and discover, Iceland-born Leifur Eiriksson. He was the first European to discover American in 1000 AD, long before Christopher Columbus.
The highest building in Iceland was completed in 1986 - so surely it's some skyscraper or some sort of business centre, you say? On the contrary: it is the Hallgrímskirkja, a geologically-themed church that stands 75 m (244 ft) high.
Made of white concrete, its interior is simple, yet elegant, featuring tall white columns. However, the main reason to enter the church is to go up its tower, which probably gives the best views of the city this side of the Perlan restaurant.
In front of the church you will find a statue of Leifur Eiríksson, which was donated to Iceland by the United States in 1930 to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Alþing (Icelandic parliament).
Hallgrímskirkja is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. As of Jan. 2007, the cost to go up the tower is 350 IKR.
So many others have written about this magnificient church overlooking Reykjavik, that I leave out details here. However, I will recommend a visit here any time; it's perhaps t h e power place of Reykjavik. It is also a good place to gain an overview of things in Reykjavik if you are on the first walk in town. Easy to find and see - it will be your reference point for the rest of your time in Reykjavik.
The modernistic and beacon-like Hallgrimskirka is Reykjavik's tallest landmark, and a good way to orient yourself while walking around the city. It stands fairly high up, so you can see it from many vantage points around town. The structure in a heroic, nationalist style to replace an earlier church that was destroyed by fire. Construction took several decades, and the church was consecrated in the 1940s.
The church tower is brilliantly lit at night. Different people say that when floodlit, it reminds them of the Empire State Building, or a flickering candle, or an alien spacecraft. To my eyes it brings to mind a Wurlitzer organ.
Wherever I go, I try to go up a spire somewhere. German Munster are the best- winding stairs with worn steps and little light, and crowds of people going up and down-they're great!
But this- this was very disappointing, there was a lift!
Still, the view was great.
The design of the church is supposed to be reminiscent of basalt columns from a volcano.
The first thing that you see just arrived in Reykjavik from route 41 (Keflavik Airport - Rekjavik) is the Hallgrimskirkja. It is situated on the top of Skolavordustigur so you can see it from over 20 Km. It built in 1974 and its structure remember a basaltic mountain. Inside, the church you can see a boat which remember the sailor who died during their work. From the top of the bell tower (75 m.) you can see a wonderful panoramo of the City: the house of Reykjavik with different color (blue, red, yellow, green), the Tjorn, Reykjavik Airport and also if the weather is fine the Snaefellsness Peninsula.
The church is built atop a hill just on the edge of the city centre. It's a modern piece of art with clean and bare architecture and the interior matches this. It's worth a visit though, if only for the great view over Reykjavik from the top of the tower. See the travelougue for more!
In Iceland many of the houses are built of corrugated Iron, more commonly used for building barns and out houses in the rest of Europe. Building material (especially Wood) is scarse in Iceland.
One outcome of this use of Iron is the colourful houses, and especially roofs. This shot is taken from the spire of the cathedral.
You can`t miss this quite ugly basalt structure when you visit in Reykjavik. It is the biggest church in Reykjavik. In the belltower of this church is where you get the best aerial shots of the city. Note the statue of Leifur Erikson in the front. Given to Iceland in 1930 by the United States, it is in congratulations to the 1000th anniversary to the oldest Free Govermental
Assembly in the world, Iceland's Althing.
Get to the top of the church either in morning or late afternoon (times vary) for the best sunlight.
Avoid the hour or half-hour as you will be right beside the bells when they ring. The bells! The bells!
The 18th century witnessed terrible misery among Icelanders in the wake of enormous volcanic eruptions, resulting in drastic climate changes and destruction of grazing fields. The population decreased by nearly 25%. The Danish king instituted a commission for disaster control which consolidated all official administration within Reykjavik. Thus the first town in Iceland was formed. Among the offices centered there were the bishop’s sees of Skálholt and Hólar.
Such was the founding of Reykjavík, and the cathedral was consequently built in the years 1787-96. The construction overextend the capacity of the local work force, even though the carpenters and stonemasons were brought in from Denmark.
The Cathedral soon required extensive restoration, and the decision was made to enlarge it considerably. In the year 1848 this temple of God was consecrated. It was built according to the architectural plans of A. Winstrup, royal builder-master in Copenhagen. The neo-classical style of this modest cathedral is considered an exquisite work of art. It is remarkable how well the neo-baroque decorations adorn the building proper. The pulpit and frame around the altarpiece are designed by Winstrup himself as well as the pews. The altarpiece draws the visitor’s attention. It was painted in 1847 by G. T. Wegener of the Royal Danish Academy of Art and has many “daughters” in other Icelandic churches.
In 1956 and ‘58 the altar antependium was decorated with a vine of gilded silver and Icelandic agat by the silversmith, Halldór Kristinsson. The baptismal font is fashioned by the sculptor Albert Thorvaldsen, a Dane of Icelandic parentage, who worked mostly in Rome
The procession cross was part of the donations which the Cathedral received during its recent bicentenary. It is designed by Leifur Breidfjord, a prominent Icelandic glass artist.
The organ was made in 1985 by Karl Schuke in Berlin. It has three manuals and thirty-one independent voices.
A Reykavik landmark that can be seen for miles. It is supposed to resemble a mountain of basaltic lava.
For great views of the city take the elevator to the top of the tower.
Admission: 300 kronas. A service had just let out when we were there and the bells were ringing. It was very nice!
See travelogue for more pics.
This beautiful cathedral is one of the largest structures in Reykjavik. You can spot it as you approach the city from quite a distance. On the inside, the cathedral is quite modern and spacious and it is home to an immense organ. You can also take an elevetor to the top of the tower and have quite a view of the city. It's well worth a visit.
Meeting people whom you never thought of meeting!
On our last day in Reykjavik, we met this guy from Toronto & he was from the same university as I was! Gosh, what's the probability of meeting someone from the same university in Iceland on a 6 day tour???
Amazing, isn't it?