It may be the most recognisable building in Reykjavik and Iceland's largest church, but Hallgrímskirkja is not actually the city's Cathedral, but a Lutheran Church. It was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the same architect who designed the church in Akureyri. Unfortunately, Samúelsson was not able to see his work completed: the Hallgrímskirkja was built between 1945 and 1986, and he died in 1950.
The Hallgrímskirkja is named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, one of the most prominent Icelandic religious poets. The church's architecture is inspired by the landscapes of Iceland itself, and its striking façade represents the basalt columns found all over the country, like those at Svartifoss Waterfall in Skaftafell.
Despite its impressive exterior, the interior of Hallgrímskirkja is noted for its austerity. There's an absence of decoration on its white walls, and its main feature is the large organ with more than 5000 pipes that was installed in the early 1990s.
Climb Hallgrímskirkja Tower
From its 244 feet (75 metres) in height, the observation deck in Hallgrímskirkja Tower offers excellent panoramic views over Reykjavik, rivalling the Perlan Museum's viewing platform, especially from its privileged location in the city centre. There's even a lift that takes you to the top of the tower, making it a accessible for most visitors.
April to October
Hallgrímskirkja: daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Hallgrímskirkja Tower: daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm.
May to September
Hallgrímskirkja: daily from 9 am to 9 pm.
Hallgrímskirkja Tower: daily from 9 am to 8:30 pm.
Hallgrímskirkja: free entry.
Climbing the tower
Adults: 1,000 kr (US$ 7.60).
Children from 7 to 16 years old: 100 kr (US$ 0.80).
Children under 7 years old: free.
Bus: lines 5, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.