Hallgrímskirkja Church, erected high on the hill in the city of Reykjavik, brags of her immense beauty, as she can be seen from nearly any point within the city. She stands as a beacon, with the wings of the church flanking her towering peak and resembling the pipes inside her. Yet, the exquisite beauty of Hallgrímskirkja is nothing compared to the sound bellowing from the chapel organ. Her voice is pure, smooth, and embracing. It reaches the outermost edges and corners of the building and fills every empty space.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
Phone: +354 510 1000
Church Hours: Winter 9a – 5p | Summer 9a – 9p
Tower Hours: Same opening hours, closes half hour prior to church | Closed Sundays 10:30a – 12:15p
Cost: Church | Free Tower: 900kr Adults | 100kr children 7-14
The Blue Lagoon, and Hallgrímskirkja Church are the two must do things on everyone’s list when they plan a trip to Iceland. Of course, there are so many more things to do in Iceland, but when a tourist – definitely hit these two places.
Guðjón Samúelsson is the architect who designed the church in 1937 and it is very similar to Grundtvig’s Church, another Scandinavian church in Denmark, Copenhagen. Though we were compelled at how the physical structure of the church mirrored the internal organ, it was originally designed to mimic the landscape of the country. It also wasn’t intended to be as tall as it is, but the Lutheran church wanted it to be taller than the Catholic Church in Iceland. It is named after the author of the Passion Hymns of Iceland, clergyman and poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson.
The Hallgrímskirkja Church is a beautiful site and can be appreciated by all, no matter what denomination you do, or do not participate in. We love to visit churches on our travels. From quaint parishes tucked and hidden amongst the many homes built into the mountain of the French Riviera in Villefranche to the immense and powerful Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. Churches are the voice of the people who live within a space, and denote the culture of a city and country that a people call home.
Hallgrímskirkja Church is no exception. The people of Iceland are a dedicated unwavering sort, and they are deeply rooted in their devotion to the land, the sea and their traditions. This church, similarly, has a presence that is rooted not only in her position to the city but in how she is positioned on the top of the hill. She is unmovable and extends her wings to vast far reaches. She is designated as the landmark of this beautiful country.
It’s no small marvel that the sounds which resonate through the halls of Hallgrímskirkja are so powerful. The organ is comprised of 102 ranks, 72 stops and 5275 pipes. It is 49 ft tall and weighs 25 tons!
The juxtaposition of her bold, wide body is particularly impressive after climbing her tower. To reach the observation deck you’ll take a short elevator to the top, followed by a short staircase. The windows are all beautiful stained glass with gorgeous designs. Due to her height, and the form of her tower, winds whip around her at breakneck speeds. It’s nearly impossible to stand upright, but the view is remarkable if you can manage, and it’s certainly fun to try.
The tower offers a stunning view of the Icelandic homes in the valley. Homes are painted in bright reds, yellows, and blues. These are hues that will stand out amidst the dark, wet, cold, and snowy winters and lift the spirits of the people until the sun returns. It is a beautiful sight and one that can only be appreciated from the height and perspective of the Hallgrímskirkja Church.
► For Kids: Hallgrímskirkja Church is an extremely unique way to view the culture, history and geography of the city of Reykjavik and the country of the Iceland. From outside the church you can see a living witness of the architecture of the church mimicking the life of the native Icelander. A statue of Leif Eriksson is poised outside of the church, and is a marker that Europeans, not Spaniards, were actually the first to discover America in the year 1,000 AD. From inside the chapel, you can hear the swell of the music from the organs and allow it to penetrate your soul, disallowing you to ever forget the memory or emotion of this place. And finally, atop the tower of the church you can view the coastline as far as the horizon will reach, as the waves crash against the lava rocks and the city that has cropped up in between the volcanic mountains.
Have you visited Hallgrímskirkja Church? Where you as touched by the beauty and sounds of her as we were? We also popped into a little cafe on the hill after visiting her to play with a few cats, and enjoy some warm hot chocolate. Come to think of it, this was truly our first, non-official cat cafe! We’d love to hear all about your experience!
► Nap-Time Version: Hallgrímskirkja Church is a must stop for any traveler visiting Iceland. Take the time to explore the scenery around her, but be sure to step inside for a bit. The sounds of the organ are unparalleled, and the view from her tower is stunning.
During our trip we also visited the Volcano House, went winter swimming at Laugardalslaug Swimming Pool, and even ate reindeer at a traditional Christmas Buffet! Check out our other adventures in Iceland!