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Iceland Mag

Culture

Hallgrímskirkja church picked as one of the world’s most beautiful houses of worship

By Staff

  • A striking landmark Hallrímskirkja is truly a commanding presence on the Reykjavík skyline. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Architectural Digest, one of the oldest magazines in America dedicated to interior design and architecture, has picked Hallgrímskirkja church as one of the 19 most beautiful houses of worship around the world.

Lending a commanding presence to the Reykjavik skyline, Hallgrímskirkja stands nearly 250 feet tall. Architect Guðjón Samúelsson’s unique design for the Lutheran church was inspired by the Icelandic basalt lava flows. Completed in 1937 and named for religious poet Hallgrímur Pétursson, the building offers excellent views of the city and also boasts an impressive 25-ton, 5,275-pipe organ.

Hotly contested while under construction
Hallgrímskirkja definitively gives a commanding presence to the Reykjavík skyline, towering over downtown from the top of Skólavörðuholt hill, and it would be difficult to imagine Reykjavík without one of its most striking landmarks. Which probably makes it all the more interesting that its construction had many critics. Not only did its construction take a long time (construction was started in 1945, and only finished in 1986), incurring significant cost overruns, but many felt the church was far from beautiful and felt its commanding presence on the Reykjavík skyline was anything but welcome.

Since the church was finished it has certainly grown on people. It is another question altogether whether it truly is one of 19 most beautiful houses of worship around the world. But, then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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