Hallgrímskirkja: What’s in a name?

With all the wild outdoor beauty, it’s often easy to forget that Iceland has great interior beauties worth the viewing. Hard to miss because of it’s towering height, the Lutheran church Hallgrímskirkja can be seen from practically everywhere in Reykjavik. (Kirkja means church in Icelandic by the way.)

The designer and architect, Gudjon Samuelsson, clearly took his inspiration from the brute volcanic elements and shaped the building into a modernist vision that reconciles the Icelandic soul with its environment. Long in coming into being (41 years to build), costly and controversial at the time, it has become one of the most visible landmarks of Reykjavik and Iceland.

Many people enter the church to view Reykjavik from the top tower, but what you will notice immediately is the large organ, The Klaisorgan (constructed by Johannes Klais Organworks of Bonn, Germany). If you’re lucky, you might find yourself enjoying a recital or concert. As you look around, you’ll see another smaller organ close to the altar.

Wondering about the name Hallgrímskirkja? It’s named in honor of the pastor-poet, Rev. Hallgrímur Pétursson, who wrote the The Passion-Hymns of Iceland in the 1600s.

Tip: If you find yourself in the northern city of Akureyri look for the Akureyrarkirkja that has a similar basalt inspiration that was also designed by Gudjon Samuelsson.

Categories: Places

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