Hallgrimskirkja – Reykjavik, Iceland - Atlas Obscura

Reykjavik, Iceland


The tallest building in Iceland, and certainly one of the most visually impressive. 

Rising 244 feet above the streets of Reykjavik is Hallgrimskirkja, the tallest building in Iceland. It is situated in the capital city’s center and has become one of Reykjavik’s best-known symbols.

The Lutheran church has a stylised concrete exterior inspired by the distinctive basalt formations found throughout Iceland, such as the waterfall Svartifoss. This gives the building an appearance more akin to a spaceship than a place of worship and makes it a unique feature of Reykjavik’s skyline. Although construction began in 1945, the church took 38 years to build, as many parts of the church were consecrated and in use at different times.

Besides its stunning exterior, its most famous feature inside is a huge organ that was built in Germany in 1992, boasting 5,275 pipes. It is 15 metres tall and weighs 25 tons. Along with an exploration of the inside of the Hallgrimskirkja, the bell tower, which is accessible via an elevator, provides the best views in the city.

A hidden gem is the large stained glass window above the church entrance. From the outside the window isn’t done justice, it’s only when you see it with natural backlight that you really see its beauty. The window is on the tower’s second floor, accessible through stairs on the right-hand side of the entrance.

Know Before You Go

There is an admission fee for the tower, which is only accessible via a lift. It is ISK 1,000 (Icelandic króna) for adults and ISK 100 for children, which is payable at the church's gift shop.

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