Iceland is known across the world for its jaw dropping landscapes, fascinating folklore and incredible wildlife. However, breathtaking architecture is often left out of that conversation. Why? We’re not quite sure. Especially when Reykjavik is home to the stunning Hallgrimskirkja Church - not just the tallest building across the city, but it is also the tallest church in Iceland, too! 

History of Hallgrimskirkja 

It wasn't until 1929 until the Parish of Reykjavik initiated a nationwide competition in search of an architect to produce a blueprint for a church to be built in the city. This wasn't as simple as you might think, there were a few conditions to begin with:

  • The church needed to seat at least 1200 people
  • A high tower was needed (to act as a radio mast for the national radio station)

Simple, right? Not quite, by 1937 there was still no winner, so instead the Parish of Reykjavik approached Guðjón Samúelsson, the State Architect of Iceland and requested he be the one to spearhead this project. 

Guðjón Samúelsson had previously designed multiple different structures throughout Reykjavik, some included the National Theatre and the University of Iceland, making him the perfect candidate. 

During construction there were a number of issues to overcome, none greater than Guðjón Samúelsson actually passing away due to disease in 1950, leaving other architects the task of trying to continue what he had previously envisioned for the design of the church. 

Construction on Hallgrimskirkja Church started in 1945 and it was finally consecrated on 26th October 1986 - more than 40 years after plans for the church were initially discussed. 

Design of Hallgrimskirkja

The structure of Hallgrimskirkja Church is built of concrete, with the surface being coated in white granite to offer that recognisable rough feel we all know so well today. The idea behind the blend of granite and concrete was to demonstrate the blend between the naturalism of Iceland’s incredible landscapes and areas of civilization and traditional architecture. 

The jagged tower was in fact inspired by Svartifoss, a black waterfall in Skaftafell nature reserve park. And although it was added to act as a radio mast, it is now a popular tourist spot where people are able to climb to the very top of Hallgrimskirkja tower to enjoy the stunning views on display of downtown Reykjavik and the snow capped mountains into the distance.

Visiting Hallgrimskirkja

If ever you intend to visit Hallgrimskirkja Church when you’ll need to head to the 1010 area of Reykjavik, as the church is located within the centre of the 101 zip code, making it very easy to find. Even better because this is a great part of the city to see and explore. 

The opening times of the church are very dependant on the time you year you choose to visit, for example throughput the winter (October-April) the opening times are between 9am and 5pm, and in  the summer (May-September) the church will remain open from 9am to 9pm - the tower however, will always close 30 minutes prior to the church closing.

Wherever you are planning to come from within the city you will more or likely find that most busses pass through the proximity of the church, however if you are staying within the Capitol Region within the outside of Downtown then it is likely you’ll need to make a transfer. If you don’t fancy having to rely on public transport at all during your stay, then perhaps we could help fulfil your rental needs, so browse the cars we have to offer. If you’re planning to drive to Hallgrimskirkja Church then here's a guide to parking within Reykjavik to help. 

Planning to visit Iceland to see the stunning Hallgrimskirkja Church? Please get in touch with us if you have any questions regarding renting a car or visiting Iceland in general, We’ll be more than happy to help you in any way that we can.