Reykjavík Catherdal was built in 1787-1796 to a design by Andreas Kirkerup, in neoclassical style. In 1847-1848 it was enlarged in accord with design by Winstrup in post-classical style. In 1999-2000 the cathedral was restored, to plans by Þorsteinn Gunnarsson.
The Cathedral of Reykjavik was consecrated in 1796 and was the first building to be built specifically with the fact in mind that Reykjavík was to become the capital of the country.
Around a century later the Parliament building was constructed right next to the church. In time these two buildings have become one in the minds of the nation and symbolise an unbroken connection between the laws and traditions of the land. The cathedral has been a platform for major events in the life of the nation; its individuals, families and the society as a whole. On the occasion of the Opening of Parliament the parliamentarians walk in procession to the Cathedral and attend a special service, likewise at the inauguration of the President of Iceland. The Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Iceland and the place where most of the work connected to this office is performed.
More than anything else the Cathedral serves as a parish church, initially it was for the whole of the Reykjavík area, but now it serves the older west town area and the neighboring eastern areas.
The Icelandic population decreased by nearly 25% in 18th century due to drastic climate changes and destruction of grazing fields caused by enormous volcanic eruptions. The Danish king set up a disaster control commission which resulted in the formation of Reykjavík as an official administration centre and the bishop’s offices were relocated here from Skálholt and Hólar. The cathedral was consequently built in the years 1787-96. This modest neo-classical style cathedral was built according to the architectural plans of A. Winstrup, royal builder-master in Copenhagen. The building is beautifully adorned with neo-baroque decorations and inside the pulpit and frame around the altarpiece as well as the pews were designed by Winstrup.
Values of art
The altarpiece was painted in 1847 by G. T. Wegener of the Royal Danish Academy of Art and has many replicas in other Icelandic churches. The altar antependium was decorated in 1956 with a vine of gilded silver and Icelandic agate by the silversmith, Halldór Kristinsson. The baptismal font is fashioned by the sculptor Albert Thorvaldsen, a Dane of Icelandic parentage, who worked mostly in Rome. The processional cross was donated to the Cathedral during its recent bicentenary, designed by Leifur Breidfjord, a prominent Icelandic glass artist. The organ boasts three manuals and thirty-one independent voices and was made in 1985 by Karl Schuke in Berlin.
The National Museum and the National Archives were initially located in the attic hall of the cathedral, which was also the cradle of the Icelandic Literary Society, the oldest society in Iceland. This was an important base of operations for Jón Sigurðsson, parliamentarian and hero of independence, whose statue is located in the square outside.
High Mass is celebrated on Sunday mornings at eleven o’clock; certain services are held Sunday evenings, i.e., “Serenity Masses” and “Pop Masses,” of various kinds. On Thuesday at 12.10 pm there is a Prayer service followed by lunch. Concerts are held every now and then. Two choir-assemblies are connected with the church. Various types of children’s groups, confirmation classes and meetings for the elderly are held regularly.
The Cathedral’s website is: www.domkirkjan.is
The Cathedral is open weekdays from 10 am to 4:30 pm and for ceremonies during weekends.
We have a regular weekly pattern of services and all are welcome:
Regular Sunday service is held at 11:00. and at the same time we welcome children to a special service in the church loft.
Every third Sunday in the month we hold a Serenity Service at 20:00.
Our priest preaches in Kolaportið (the downtown fleamarket at Tryggvagata 19) in Kaffiport (the coffee area) on the last Sunday of each month at 14:00.
Prayer service is every thusday at 12:10 am with a light lunch on offer afterwards in the congregation hall.
Open house in the congregation hall from 13:30-15:30. Offering good company with refreshments at a reasonable price.
A prayer meeting and time of peace and quiet in the Cathedral from 20:00 – 20:30.