sights / Religious

Hallgrímskirkja information

Reykjavík , Iceland
Street Skólavörðuholt
+354 510 1000
More information
tower admission Ikr600
Opening hours
9am-9pm Jul & Aug, to 5pm Sep-Jun
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Lonely Planet review

Reykjavík’s most attention-seeking building is the immense concrete church Hallgrímskirkja, star of a thousand postcards and visible from 20km away. You can get an unmissable view of the city by taking an elevator trip up the 75m-high tower (admission Ikr600).

In contrast to the high drama outside, the church’s interior is puritanically plain. The most startling feature is the vast 5275-pipe organ , which has a strangely weapon-like appearance.

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 columns on either side of the tower represent volcanic basalt – a favourite motif of Icelandic nationalists. Hallgrímskirkja was named after the poet Reverend Hallgrímur Pétursson, who wrote Iceland’s most popular hymn book.

If you come after 5pm during summer, the money from your tower ticket supports an array of local charities. There are many opportunities to hear church music as well – from mid-June to mid-August there are noontime concerts on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and on Sundays at 5pm. Sunday services are held at 11am sharp; the last service of the month is in English. There is also a small service held on Wednesday mornings at 8am.

Gazing proudly into the distance out front is a statue of the Viking Leifur Eiríksson, the first European to stumble across America. It was a present from the USA on the 1000th anniversary of the Alþing (National Assembly).