The Church of Hallgrimur is the crown on Iceland's capital with its magnificent 73 meters high steeple rising above all other buildings in Reykjavik. It is the largest church of the country with a seating capacity for 1,200 people in the nave.
It was under construction longer than any other building in Iceland and has at times generated considerable controversy.
Ideally situated on the hill Skolavorduholt, overlooking the centre of old Reykjavik, the site for Hallgrims church was in fact set aside early this century for the purpose of building just such a large church to serve the eastern part of the rapidly growing town.
The name of the Rev. Hallgrimur Petursson (1614-1674), without a doubt Iceland's most beloved poet, was soon linked to the plans for the proposed church.
State Architect Gudjon Samuelsson (1887-1950) was commissioned to design the Hallgrims church in 1937. He designed many buildings to be seen throughout the country. The most famous are the main building of the university, the National Theatre, the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Reykjavik and the Church of Akureyri.
His goal was to create a style of national architecture in the same manner as many of his contemporaries in the other Nordic countries, using motifs and materials from the Icelandic nature with basalt formations playing a prominent role.
The design of the Hallgrims Church, his final and greatest achievement, is reminiscent of the rugged mountains and icecaps, which dominate Iceland's landscapes.
Inevitably the design engendered controversy, especially its size and the towering steeple. Nonetheless a large number of people was determined to see the project through and the design remained unchanged.
In December 1992 a grand organ of 72 stops, commissioned from Johannes Klais in Bonn, was inaugurated; by far the largest organ in Iceland.
This Organ has four manuals and pedals, 5,275 pipes and mechanical tracture. It stands 15 meters high and weighs some 25 tons. Already it has been used frequently in concerts as well as in religious services.
Text: Roberto Salido ± Photo:Flickr.