Church of Hallgrimur

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Europe, Iceland

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  • The Church of Hallgrimur or Hallgrimskirkja, located in Reykjavik, is a striking architectural structure and the largest church in all of Iceland.

    Building on the church began in 1945 and was completed on the 26th October 1986. It was designed by state architect, Gudjon Samuelsson and is named in honour of Hallgrimur Petursson – a famous Icelandic poet and clergyman.

    The church has a unique structure – Samuelsson intended for it to represent the rugged mountains and icecaps which dominate Iceland’s natural landscapes. The church is built on a hill and is dominated by a central 73 metre high steeple which towers over Reykjavik.

    As well as being remarkable to look at, Hallgrimskirkja is also the tallest building in Reykjavik and is therefore a fantastic place from where to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of this colourful and beautiful city. Entrance to the nave of the church is free but there is a small fee to use the elevator to travel to the top of the steeple. Within the steeple are three large bells and a carillon of 29 bells. The three big bells are named Hallgrimur, Gudrun and Steinunn after the churches namesake, his wife and their daughter who sadly died at a young age. The 29 bells of the carillon are all gifts and are inscribed with the names of those who donated them and of the person who they wanted to commemorate.  Another point of interest within the church is its concert organ – this was inaugurated in December 1992 after a large fundraising campaign. It was commissioned from Johannes Klais in Bonn and is easily the largest concert organ in Iceland standing 15 metres high and weighing around 25 tons!

    The Church of Hallgrimur is also the venue for many cultural events - in 1982 the organisation Friends of the Arts of Hallgrimskirkja was founded – they promote a number of richly diverse artistic events throughout the year including the Festival of Sacred Art which occurs every other year and the International Organ Summer which occurs annually. Even if you are unable to catch one of these events, however, a trip to Hallgrimskirkja is still an absolute must for anyone visiting Reykjavik!


    Photo by joaosilvaferreira License CC BY 2.0

    Photo by Brian Gratwicke License CC BY 2.0

    Photo by Christine Zenino License CC BY 2.0


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General Information
Type of Activity: Religious & Spiritual
Activity: Places of Worship
Area: Europe
Country: Iceland
City: Reykjavik
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