Friday, June 10, 2016

From High Atop Hallgrimskirkja

Hallgrimskirkja is a Reykjavik landmark.  It is visible from all over central Reykjavik due to the fact that it is (a) rather tall, and (b) emplaced on a rather high point in an otherwise flat (ish) Reykjavik.  So it's like a tall kid standing on a chair for the class photo.  The combined effect is to overwhelm the surrounding environment.

The most dramatic view is the one you see walking up Skólavörðustígur.  I don't know how to pronounce that.  I don't have a clue how to render using only the alphabet we use in the English-speaking world.  I cut and pasted that from Google maps.

When you get close, the shape of the exterior (frontal view) resembles that of a large church pipe organ.

I'm guessing that observation is not original and, with this being a church, the effect was intentional.

And it does have large pipe organ.

It is a Lutheran parish church, still.  So we have saints in statue form.

It also had this interesting art piece hanging on the back wall.  I know fish are fraught with Christian symbolism.

But this does not look particularly religious to me.  Cool, yes.  Way cool, in fact.  Religious?  Christian religious?  Not so much.

The main attracting of Hallgrimskata is the tower.  An elevator ride to the top costs a mere 900 krona, about eight U.S. dollars.  We stood in line for the elevator and did not see that there was a charge for the elevator until we got to the front of the line.  There was a very small sign telling us to go to the nearby gift shop to buy tickets.  Other people also would not have seen the sign until they got close to the elevator, as we saw other people doing what we were doing:  standing in line, getting out of line and walking to the gift shop, and coming back with tickets in hand.

I thought about pretending I did not see the sign and seeing what happened when I got to the tower summit, but after the notorious Salvador Brasil Flash Photography Incident(TM) in 1997,* I don't play games with the rules inside a church I'm visiting.

Tickets bought and a ride to the top of the tower and these were the views from the summit:

This was the northwesterly view, down Skólavörðustígur.

This was the northeasterly view.  The Hotel Skuggi would be somewhere in this.

And this was the view to the southwest.

This view looks out to the old Reykjavik airport, which is sort of like Reykjavik's Houston-Hobby or Dallas Love Field.  It's the little domestic-only airport that Southwest would use if it flew around Iceland.

* Footnote:  The notorious Salvador Brasil Flash Photography Incident(TM) of 1997, if I've not mentioned in blog posts past, happened back in the good ol' days of film photography.  I was in a brief ornate old church, São Francisco church in the historic Pelourinho district of Salvador.  Pardon me if you've heard this one before. But, essentially, I was in a beautiful old church, by myself, no one around, snapping pictures. I saw a sign that even with my limited Portuguese I understood to mean "no flash photography." Well, no one was around. I could feign ignorance if asked. So I continued to snap pictures with a flash. No one ever did ask me to stop. Fast forward to end of the trip. I get home. Take the five rolls of film I shot in Brazil to get developed (remember that!).  One of the rolls got ruined. The one I shot in Salvador.  And that roll was not ruined UNTIL THE EXACT POINT I tool pictures in São Francisco church. And that is why I always follow the rules in churches.


  1. How are the fishes not religious?

    1. There is religious symbolism to fishes, I agree. But I don't think the presentation was especially evocative of the spiritual. But I enjoyed the piece nevertheless.