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Reykjavik's church.jpg
64°08′30″N 21°55′36″W / 64.1417°N 21.9266°W / 64.1417; -21.9266Coordinates: 64°08′30″N 21°55′36″W / 64.1417°N 21.9266°W / 64.1417; -21.9266
Consecrated26 October 1986
Functional statusParish church
Architect(s)Guðjón Samúelsson
StyleExpressionist Neo-Gothic
Spire height74.5 metres (244 ft)
Bishop(s)Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir

Hallgrímskirkja (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈhatl̥ˌkrimsˌcʰɪr̥ca], Church of Hallgrímur) is a Lutheran (Church of Iceland) parish church in Reykjavík, Iceland. At 74.5 metres (244 ft) tall, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country.[1] Known for its distinctively curved spire and side wings, it has been described as having become an important symbol for Iceland's national identity since its completion in 1986[2] The church is named after the Icelandic poet and cleric Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614–1674), author of the Passion Hymns.[3]


Situated on the hilltop Skólavörðuholt [ˈskouːlaˌvœrðʏˌhɔl̥t] near the centre of Reykjavík, the church is one of the city's best-known landmarks and is visible throughout the city. State Architect Guðjón Samúelsson's design of the church was commissioned in 1937. He is said to have designed it to resemble the trap rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland's landscape,[4][5] in particular its columnar basalt "organ pipe" formations (such as those at Svartifoss).[2] The design is similar in style to the expressionist architecture of Grundtvig's Church of Copenhagen, Denmark, completed in 1940, which has been described as a likely influence, alongside the expressionist Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz in Berlin, Germany (completed in 1933).[2]

Architecturally, Hallgrímskirkja consists of three parts: The tower with the distinctly curved side wings which house service facilities, a nave in more traditional architecture, and a sanctuary at the other end of the nave, whose cylindrical shape has been described as evoking Viking war helmets.[2]

It took 41 years to build the church: construction started in 1945 and ended in 1986, but the landmark tower was completed long before the whole church was finished. The crypt beneath the choir was consecrated in 1948, the steeple and wings were completed in 1974,[5] and the nave was consecrated in 1986.[1] At the time of construction, the building was criticized as too old-fashioned and as a blend of different architectural styles.[6] The church was originally intended to be less tall, but the leaders of the Church of Iceland wanted a large spire so as to outshine Landakotskirkja (Landakot's Church), which was the cathedral of the Catholic Church in Iceland.[6]

The interior is 1,676 square metres (18,040 sq ft).[citation needed]

The church houses a large pipe organ by the German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn. It has electronic action; the pipes are remote from the four manuals and pedal console. There are 102 ranks, 72 stops and 5275 pipes.[1] It is 15 metres (49 ft) tall and weighs 25 metric tons (25 long tons; 28 short tons). Its construction was finished in December 1992.

Einar Jónsson donated the statue of Jesus to the church in 1948, which stands right next to the entrance to the nave. Jesus receives the Holy Spirit after being baptized in the Jordan.

The church is also used as an observation tower. An observer can take a lift up to the viewing deck and view Reykjavík and the surrounding mountains.[citation needed]

The statue of explorer Leif Erikson (c.970 – c.1020) by Alexander Stirling Calder in front of the church predates its construction. It was a gift from the United States in honor of the 1930 Althing Millennial Festival, commemorating the 1000th anniversary of the convening of Iceland's parliament at Þingvellir in 930 AD.[5]


Buildings in the city center of Reykjavik covered in snow, the airport on the left, the harbor in the middle and behind that the Atlantic Ocean, in the distance mountains covered with snow and a partly broken cloud cover.
Panoramic view from the top of the Hallgrímskirkja


  1. ^ a b c Organ Fireworks VII – Christopher Herrick at the organ of the Hallgrimskirkja (CD). Hyperion. 1997.
  2. ^ a b c d Benárd, Aurél (2018-09-01). "Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík. A Late Example of Expressionist Church Architecture". YBL Journal of Built Environment. 6 (1): 86–102. doi:10.2478/jbe-2018-0006.
  3. ^ Other Icelandic churches named in memory of the same Hallgrímur are the Hallgrímskirkja in Saurbær, where Hallgrímur was minister, and since 1957 the church of the same name in Kjósarhreppur.
  4. ^ "Um Hallgrímskirkju". May 26, 2015. Archived from the original on June 1, 2021. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Noyes, David (March–April 2009). "Iceland – Europe's coolest little hot spot". Going Places. AAA:  28.
  6. ^ a b Steinsteypuöldin, retrieved 2017-01-18

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