Hallgrimskirkja towered above us. The closer we got the more impressive it became. A little winded from our climb through the streets of Reykjavik and somewhat breathless from the view before us, we stopped and admired the sleek modern architecture of the Lutheran church that was built in honor of Iceland’s poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-74). His most famous work is called Hymns of the Passion. He was one of the most influential pastors during the Age of Orthodoxy and wrote many important Lutheran hymns.
The church, designed by state architect Guðjón Samúelsson, took 38 years to build and was finished in 1986. The tower was the first part to be finished and rises 244 feet making it Iceland's tallest building. Inside the church itself, a simply designed interior and arched ceiling makes for a light and airy feeling.
As we entered, we could hear organ music and were delighted to find an organist practicing, or perhaps performing for the tourists. The huge organ was built in Germany in 1992 and has 5275 pipes.
Off the foyer was a small book store and a lady selling lift tickets for a trip to the tower's top. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to take in the views on such a beautiful day. Once the elevator reached the top of the tower, there was still a short climb to get to the very top which had openings covered with iron bars through which you could see in all directions. It was one of the most spectacular views I've seen in a long while. Well, worth the few kronurs for the trip to the top.
On the street level again, we passed by the statue of Leif Erikson in the plaza just in front of the church and began to make our way to where the Celebrity Serenity's shuttle bus was picking people up to return to the ship. Along the way, we couldn't pass up the free WiFi sign on a small coffee shop and stopped to have a cup of coffee and check in with the news back home. The coffee shop gal was very friendly and we enjoyed talking with her as well--it's always fun to share our homeland with others too.
A few minutes after leaving the coffee shop, we discovered that the map must have been a little dated since the intersection marked did not have any shuttle bus. We could see however a bus parked near the new opera house, another impressive building with amazing glass that seems to change color as the light hits it. We sprinted for the next bus back. We were scheduled for an afternoon tour and certainly didn't want to miss lunch before our tour. Cruisers never miss a meal.