Hallgrimur's Church (Hallgrimskirkja)
Reykjavík's most attention-seeking building is the immense concrete church Hallgrímskirkja, or Hallgrimur's Church, star of a thousand postcards and visible from 12 miles (20 kilometers) away. For an unmissable view of the city, make sure you take an elevator trip up the 250 ft (75 m) high tower. In contrast to the high drama outside, the church's interior is puritanically plain. The most startling feature is the vast 5,275-pipe organ, which has a strangely weapon-like appearance. Between mid-June and mid-August you can hear this mighty beast in action three times per week at lunchtime/evening concerts.
The church's radical design caused huge controversy, and its architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, never lived to see its completion - it took a painstaking 34 years (1940-74) to build. Those sweeping columns on either side of the tower represent volcanic basalt - a favorite motif of Icelandic nationalists. Hallgrímskirkja was named after the poet Reverend Hallgrímur Pétursson, who wrote Iceland's most popular hymn book. Some people less appreciative of its architecture refer to the church as a seal without its beachball.
At the top of the hill in the center of Reykjavik, the church is difficult to miss. Just walk up the hill from any side and you'll be there.
Tours & Tickets
Combine two tours in one for the perfect Icelandic experience: See the highlights of Reykjavik in the morning, then spend the afternoon touring Gullfoss, ... Read more
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)