A Guide to Reykjavík’s Impressive Hallgrimskirkja Church
The Hallgrimskirkja church is an important religious and cultural landmark in Reykjavik, as it is a place of worship for the people of the city, and it is also a popular tourist attraction.
In addition to its religious significance, the church is also a work of art. Its unique architecture, inspired by Icelandic nature, is striking and worth seeing up close when you’re visiting Iceland.
About the Hallgrimskirkja Church
Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, and one of the city’s most famous landmarks. It is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson, who wrote the Passion Hymns in 1659, which are still being sung in churches all around Iceland on Good Friday.
The church was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, who was the State Architect of Iceland at the time. Construction began in 1945 and was not completed until 1986. This was due to several factors, including financial difficulties and Guðjón Samúelsson died before the project was finished. The church’s tower was not completed until 1974, and the rest of the building was not finished until 1986.
The church is 73 meters (240 feet) tall, making it the tallest building in Iceland. Its design was inspired by Icelandic nature, with the tower resembling the basalt columns found at Reynisfjara beach and in the country’s lava fields. The roof is also a reference to nature, as it is shaped like a mountain peak.
Despite its lengthy construction period, the church has become a popular tourist attraction due to its unique architecture and stunning views of Reykjavik. Visitors can take an elevator to the top of the church’s tower to see a panoramic view of the city, or they can listen to the church’s renowned pipe organ (which has 5275 pipes) during one of the Sunday services. Those who choose to attend a service can also learn about Icelandic religious traditions.
Next to its unique architecture and stunning views of the city, tourists can visit the church to learn about the history and culture of Iceland, as it has a small museum with exhibits on Icelandic history and the life of Hallgrimur Petursson.
Basic facts about Hallgrimskirkja Church
Here is another interesting fact about Hallgrimskirkja Church: The tower is also home to a large carillon, which consists of 23 bells that are played manually or by a computer-controlled system. The carillon is played every day at noon, and special concerts are held on certain occasions.
|Hight||73 meters (240 feet)|
|Type||Religious and architectural landmark|
|GPS Coordinates||64°08’09.0″N 21°57’29.5″W|
|Names||Hallgrimskirkja, Church of Hallgrimur|
How to pronounce Hallgrimskirkja?
The correct pronunciation of Hallgrimskirkja in Icelandic is “HALL-gree-muhs-keer-kyuh.” The stress is on the second syllable, and the “j” is pronounced as a “y” sound.
How to reach the Hallgrimskirkja Church (Map)
While Hallgrimskirkja is not located on the Golden Circle (a popular tourist route through Iceland), it is located in the center of Reykjavik and thus easily accessible by foot or by car; It is a short walk from the main shopping and dining areas of the city, and there is a large parking lot nearby for those who are driving.
The church is also serviced by public transportation. The Strætó city bus service operates throughout Reykjavik, and several bus lines stop near the church. You can check the Strætó website or app for route and schedule information.
If you are arriving in Reykjavik by plane, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus from the airport to the city center. From there, it is a short walk to the church.
When to visit Hallgrimskirkja Church
Hallgrimskirkja is open to visitors all year round, so there is no bad time to visit. However, the summer months of June to August are the busiest tourist season in Iceland, so the church may be more crowded during this time. On the other hand, the summer months offer the advantage of longer daylight hours, which means you’ll have more time to explore the church and its surroundings.
The winter months can also be a good time to visit Hallgrimskirkja, as Reykjavik can be quite festive during the holiday season. The city is known for its Christmas lights and holiday markets, and the church is often decorated for the season. Keep in mind that the winter months are also the darkest time of year in Iceland, with shorter daylight hours.
Accommodation near Hallgrimskirkja Church
There are several accommodation options located near Hallgrimskirkja church as it’s located in Reykjavik, the capital of the country. This means you will be surrounded by many accommodation options to choose from, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses.
Here are a few options to consider:
- Radisson Blu Saga Hotel: an upscale hotel is located just a few minutes walk from the church and offers a range of amenities, including a restaurant, a bar, and a fitness center.
- Reykjavik Lights Hotel: a stylish hotel located in the heart of Reykjavik, just a few minutes walk from the church.
- Reykjavik Centrum Hotel: This budget-friendly hotel is located in the center of Reykjavik, just a short walk from the church.
- Airbnb rentals: Many Airbnb rentals are located in the area around the church. You can find various options, from private rooms to entire apartments, at various price points.
Reykjavik is also a great base for exploring the rest of the country, as it is central and well-connected to other parts of Iceland by road and public transportation.
What to do at Hallgrimskirkja Church
There are several things to do at and around Hallgrimskirkja, let us summarise them:
- Take a tour of the church: Visitors can take a guided tour of the church, which includes a visit to the tower and a chance to see the panoramic views of the city. This tour also includes a visit to the church’s small museum.
- Attend a Sunday service: Visitors can also attend one of the church’s Sunday services to experience Icelandic religious traditions.
- Explore the surrounding area: The church is located in the center of Reykjavik, so there are many other things to see and do in the surrounding area. You can visit the city’s main shopping and dining district or go for a walk in one of the nearby parks.
Other attractions near Hallgrimskirkja Church
The city of Reykjavik was founded in 870 AD by Ingólfur Arnarson, the first permanent settler of Iceland. Since then the city grew slowly over the centuries, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it underwent a period of rapid expansion.
Today, Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland and is home to over two-thirds of the country’s population. Next to the church, it houses a ton of other attractions you can visit to learn more about the country and its history.
We created an Iceland Attractions Map to help you plan your trip and find your way around the country. It includes information on popular attractions, hidden gems, and practical information such as transportation, parking, and Airbnb options. Below our favorite spots!
- The National Museum of Iceland: This museum is located just a few minutes walk from the church and has exhibits on the history, culture, and natural history of Iceland.
- The Reykjavik City Hall: a modern building located a short walk from the church and is home to the city’s government office. The city hall has an art gallery with rotating exhibitions.
- The Hlemmur Food Hall: This popular food market is a short walk from the church and offers a range of dining options, from Icelandic seafood to international cuisine.
- The Sundhöllin swimming pool: This historic public pool is located a short walk from the church and has a range of amenities, including a hot tub, a sauna, and a steam room.
If you are seeking exciting and natural sights, you may want to consider a trip to:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall: a 60 meters tall waterfall, part of Seljalands River.
- Kerid Crater lake: a lake inside a volcanic crater, surrounded by colorful volcanic rock
- Fjadrargljufur Canyon: a 100 meters deep and 2 kilometers long canyon, formed by erosion from the Fjadrárgljúfur River, known for its rock formations and colorful walls.
What to pack when visiting Hallgrimskirkja Church
While the church is located in the city center, there are still a few things you’ll want to pack:
- Warm clothing: Even in the summer months, the weather can be cool and unpredictable, so it is a good idea to bring warm layers such as a coat, a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
- Comfortable shoes: The church is located in the center of Reykjavik, so you will likely do a lot of walking. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking on uneven surfaces.
- Camera: The church is a beautiful and photogenic building, and the views from the tower are breathtaking. Don’t forget to bring your Sony A7IV camera to capture the sights.
- Water bottle: It is essential to stay hydrated, especially if you visit during the summer when the weather can be warm. Make sure to bring a water bottle to keep with you during your visit.