This morning we are off on a walking tour in downtown Reykjavík. Our guesthouse is very centrally located offering a great breakfast and nice quiet rooms. The Lutheran church, Hallgrímsirkja, is just steps away and can be seen all over the city. The architect, Gudjón Samúelsson, was influenced by Scandinavian Modernism and designed the church with trap rock formations, mountains and glaciers in mind. Construction happened from 1945-1986. In the church’s front courtyard, boasts a statue of Leifur Eiríksson, who was the first European to arrive in North America, some 500 years before Columbus.
The church’s two big bronze doors were installed in 2010 and the translation of the words means “Come to me”. Above the entrance is a verse from the Hymns of the Passion. This translates as, “Dare not bring before thy God hypocrisy’s oblation. Stand in His holy place unshod with humble adoration. Bow before Him both heart and knee, confess His grace thine only plea, and shun all ostentation.”
Across the street from the church you will find the Einar Jónsson Museum and garden containing 26 bronze casts of Iceland’s first sculptor, the symbolist Einar Jónsson. Einar and his wife Anna put a lot of work into the garden themselves while they lived in the museum building. Open all year, we enjoyed walking around and admired the works.
Making our way down to the waterfront past some colorful buildings and murals.
Remembering the ancient days of Viking sail and oar, the sculpture “Solfar the Sun Voyager” by Jon Gunnar Arnason sits quietly by the sea. This work of stainless steel and granite slabs was created in 1980. According to the artist, it suggests “the promise of the new, undiscovered territory”.
Harpa concert hall and conference center is a modern fusion of glass and steel, designed by Olafur Eliasson and constructed between 2007 – 2011.
Rainbow Street is located between Bergstaðastræti and Laugavegur, one of the busiest streets in Reykjavík. We come across this as we are heading back up to the church. On each side of the road there were knitting shops, art boutiques, clothing stores and cozy cafes.
And good to know – if you want to buy a traditional Icelandic sweater, midway up this street, head to The Handknitting Association of Iceland. This is where the next part of our adventure in Iceland is going and our first major stop. The store is beautiful and full of all kinds of yarn, knits and sweaters. “Knitting Under the Northern Lights” is our small group tour lead by Herdís Friðriksdóttir of Understand Iceland. We are so excited to be a part of this unique tour for women who are interested in learning about the unique Icelandic wool, knitting, spinning, hand dying techniques and local farming.
After connecting with the group we headed out of town to our next guesthouse in Reykholt.
Some of our neighbors!
Relaxing with some of the group in the beautiful guesthouse before dinner.