Phallic, Taking Flight or Fallen From Heaven

Depending on the angle you are viewing it from the Hallgrímskirkja church (or Reykjavik Cathedral) presents as a very large concrete phallus or, indeed, it could be mistaken for a spaceship designed for the Thunderbird’s animation show of the 60′s.  Either way, this impressive structure stands tall above otherwise low rise city scape that is Reykjavik.

Designed in 1937 by Guðjón Samuel the “mother church” of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland looks like it was a design ahead of its time.  However, in reality, its design was not inspired by some futurist’s vision but by that which flowed from the earth millions of years before.  Yes, Guðjón Samuel was  inspired in his endeavours by the fascinating shapes and forms created when lava cools into basalt rock.

Construction of Reykjavik’s number one landmark took 41 years to complete – it must have been like watching lava flow!  Indeed, if you get up close to the external walls it looks a bit like the finish of a student’s volcano science project.

The interior of the church is rather drab however the massive a pipe organ is impressive. The organ is 15 meters high and weighs  25 tons!  It has 5275 pipes and visitors can listen to organ recitals that fill the cavernous space with a range of tones - from the dulcet to the dramatic.

In the courtyard of the cathedral a statue of Leifur Eiriksson (c. 970 – c. 1020) – he was the first European to discover America. Records suggest that Leifur landed on the shores of the new world in the year 1,000 A.D., that’s 500 years before Christopher Columbus!

Photographing the cathedral is best left until the sun is low in the sky because the harsh mid day sun washes the colourless cathedral out. If your visit to Iceland is in summer (as our visit was) then your best time to photograph it might be around midnight!

You wont be able to avoid seeing the cathedral if you visit Reykjavik because it literally stands out from most parts of the city.  Whilst a visit to the cathedral is a must don’t dismiss viewing it from a distance either – you might just feel like you are about to witness the space shuttle launching from the Kennedy Space Centre!

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