The church, the largest in Iceland, is named after pastor and poet Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of the Passíusálmar (The Passion Hymns). Its architecture is inspired by the beautiful basalt columns of the Svartifoss waterfall in South Iceland. The building was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, one of Iceland’s most well-known architects, and houses the largest concert organ in Iceland. The concert organ is 15m tall, has 5275 pipes and weighs 25 tonnes! The building was opened in 1986.
Also take note of the beautiful entrance door and glass art, designed by local artist Leifur Breiðfjörð. In front of the church is a statue of Leif Eriksson, who discovered North America in the year 1000, more than 500 years before Columbus.
Explore the City by Foot
From Hallgrímskirkja church you’ll want to explore the nearby streets of Reykjavík’s city centre, best explored on foot or by bike. To truly soak up the culture, you’ll want to make sure to visit the main shopping streets; Laugavegur, Bankastræti, Austurstræti, Lækjargata, Skólavörðustígur – all easily accessible in the central area of Reykjavík.
If shopping is your thing in particular, I heartily recommend the many outdoor clothing chains selling extreme wear and outdoor gear. Such companies as 66° North, Cintamani, Zo-On and Ice Wear can all be found in this area.
You will also find Icelandic design to be extremely fashionable; you can catch up with the latest trends in shops such as Kraum, Spaks Manns Spjarir, Aurum, Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar, Verslun Guðsteins Eyjólfssonar, GK, Aftur and Jör.
Away from the shopping, there are numerous other neighbourhoods in Reykjavík that are worth exploring. The Neighbourhood of the Gods (Þingholtin) is a good example; these are the residential streets between Hallgrímskirkja church and the city pond.
The names of the streets in this neighbourhood all stem from Nordic religion and you can find Odin’s Street (Óðinsgata), Thor’s Street (Þórsgata), Loki’s Path (Lokastígur), Freya’s Street (Freyjugata) and a number of others. You’ll also find colourful houses, luscious gardens and plenty of street art, and will most likely bump into one of the resident cats (cats are very common pets in central Reykjavík.)