Domkirkja or Dómkirkjan í Reykjavík as it is more referred to in Iceland is a Lutheran cathedral located downtown at one of the city’s main public squares, Austurvöllur.
The area has been a church site since around the 13th century but the church you see today was originally built at the end of the 18th century when the episcopate seat of Skalholt was moved to the capital. At this point, Iceland became one diocese, before there were two.
To be able to work on the church throughout the summer, with no delays, the material was transported to the building site in the winter of 1788. Nothing was to stand in the way of the building of the cathedral. Danish handy-men were brought in to help with the project but proceedings were slow due to a lot of drinking on the part of the builders. This resulted in a lot of repairments having to be done later on and even a further discovery of the original wood was rotten from the start but, nonetheless, the Domkirkjan was inaugurated in the year 1796 and was the first building to be finished under the idea that Reykjavík was to become the capital of Iceland. The altarpiece was established much later. It was painted in 1847 by G. T. Wegener of the Royal Danish Academy of Art but later decorated with a wine of silver and Icelandic agate by the silversmith, Halldór Kristinsson.
The baptismal font is designed by the Danish-Icelandic sculptor Albert Thorvaldsen who did most of his work in the Italian city of Rome. The processional cross was a gift given to Dómkirkjan during its recent bicentenary. The cross is designed by Leifur Breiðfjörð, an Icelandic glass artist. The organ boasts three manuals and thirty-one independent voices was made in the year 1985 by Karl Schuke in Berlin. So, it is very evident that the church has taken a long time to be completed.
A little less than a century after the church was raised the house of parliament was built right next to it. Since then these two buildings have made up a whole and been the figure of laws and customs in the country. Many important events take place in the Dómkirkja including the official mass taken by the congressmen at the first day back to parliament, the statement of a new president and the Christmas mass broadcasted and listened to all over the country.
Dómkirkjan is the seat of the bishop in Iceland and a place where he does most of his work.
Domkirkjan is the mother church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland as well as being the parish church of the older city center of Reykjavík.
Fun Facts about Domkirkjan
- It was the first building raised in the idea that Reykjavík would become Iceland’s capital
- Since the year 1845, each session of the Icelandic parliament had begun with a mass at the cathedral
- When the church was ready it could seat everyone living in Reykjavik
- The National Library, The National Museum and the National Archives were housed in the loft of the Dómkirkjan until 1881 when they were moved to the House of Parliament
- The latest restoration of Domkirkjan took place in the year 1999
- The architecture of the cathedral is neoclassic
- Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, the current bishop, is the first female bishop of Iceland
Where is Domkirkjan Cathedral Located?
GPS 64°08′48″N 21°56′21″W
Dómkirkjan is located at Austurvöllur square downtown Reykjavík right behind the house of parliament. Nearby streets are Pósthússtræti, Vonarstræti, Thorvalsenstræti, Templarasund and Kirkjustræti but more likely to be recognized are the famous neighboring streets of Lækjargata and Austurstæti, Bankastræti and Laugavegur.
How to get to Domkirkjan?
Dómkirkjan can easily be reached on foot from anywhere downtown Reykjavík. There a quite a few busses that stop near Dómirkjan the closest are 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Other Interesting Churches in Reykjavik
- Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík
Where to stay near Domkirkjan dowtown Reykjavik?
The Reykjavík Domkirkja is located downtown at the best stop in town. All around it you will find accommodation and hotel options. Where you end up staying is dependant on how you wish to spend the night; at a hotel, a hostel, an Airbnb, a guesthouse or maybe even camp. We suggest browsing the web comparing your options.
Here will we list the best rated, nearby accommodation options:
- Kvosin Downtown Hotel
- Hotel Borg
- Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
- Apotek Hotel
Guesthouses, B&Bs and Apartments
- Centric Guesthouse
- Downtown Dream Apartments
- Art Centrum Apartments
- 1912 Guesthouse
- Central Apartments
- Central Guesthouse Reykjavik
Where to eat near Domkirkjan?
- Skólabrú Restaurant – quality food delicious seafood!
- Bergsson Mathús – fabulous brunch, soup and sourdough bread!
- Icelandic Street Food – a budget-friendly way to try traditional Icelandic food.
- Messinn – heavenly seafood, relatively new in the game but definitely here to stay.
- Grillmarkaðurinn – where everyone in Iceland goes to celebrate their birthday, anniversary and big events. The best meat in town.
- Apotek Restaurant – fantastic happy hour and yummy food!
- Te og Kaffi – a sweet bookstore café!
- Bæjarins Bestu – the world-famous hot dog stand. You simply must try!
Interesting places near Domkirkjan Reykjavik Cathedral
- Austurvöllur Square
- The Parliament
- Radhusid – Reykjavik City Hall
- Baejarins Bestu Hot Dog Stand
- Fríkirkja Reykjavíkur
- Reykjavík Pond
- Bíó Paradís
- Iceland’s National Museum
- Harpa Musical Hall
- The National Gallery of Iceland
- Hallgrímskirkja Church
- Skolavordustigur Street
- Laugavegur Street
- Reykjavik Art Museum at Hafnarhusid
- Solfarið e. Sun Voyager