As a child, I used to make fun of people who told me they hadn’t visited monuments of their own city. It was more or less like, “Why, you have never been to the Colosseum?! How lame! You sure you’re living in Rome? Oh oh oh…”, and rolling eyes usually accompanied the verbal exchange. What a stupid little brat I was. Yes, of course I wasn’t completely wrong when I thought that people needed to know the city they were living in a bit more, but the way of expressing my opinion only showed my childish arrogance. Now that I’m much older, I know better.
Perhaps I know better because nowadays I would be one of these people my former self used to tease. How much is due to laziness and how much to organizational issues? Working during the night, I’m sort of out of sync with the rest of the country. It often happens that by the time the partner in crime and I have woken up, taken the dog out, settled matters in need to be settled, and so on, it’s too late to visit places. In Iceland most museums and monuments close at 5 PM, a few a little later.
Not without shame I admit that for the first time yesterday we successfully visited the bell tower of the Hallgrímskirkja. We had visited the church before, but we had never ascended to the top. What a view… And what feeling, knowing that in Iceland most buildings are just a few stories high. We were at golden hour peak and the whole city of Reykjavík was bathed in warm golden tones. It felt somewhat special, even after climbing much taller buildings.
Standing at around 75 metres, the church is one of the tallest buildings in all Iceland and one of the country’s most popular landmarks. The church of Hallgrímur was started in 1945, but it took decades (forty years!) to complete. In photos taken previous to the church’s construction, the Skólavörðuholt looks incredibly desolate and with nothing to compare it with. Even the statue of Leif Eiriksson that was there before the church looked much smaller than it actually is — sorry dude, no offense, but it’s true.
Only once we tried to visit the bell tower before, but there was nobody to pay the ticket fee to, just a basket with a “leave your money here” sign. Very discouraging, if you are a lazy visitor. Not to mention that since a lot of people in Iceland only bring with them credit cards and no cash — I am one of these persons, sigh — that arrangement was pretty much useless. I am quite sure that last year the Hallgrímskirkja’s opening hours were shorter: I remember trying to get in in many instances and the door was always shut tight. The Hallgrímskirkja is currently open every day from 9 AM to 8 PM; tickets for the bell tower are ISK500 for adults and ISK100 for children. And that’s about it.
Unlike Hallgrímskirkja’s, opening hours of many other museums and galleries could still be improved. It would be nice if they admitted visitors until later, at least during summer months and at least once a week. Tourists would certainly appreciate to have some more time to admire the man-made beauties of Iceland and workers unable to match their working schedules with those of museums, churches, and galleries could benefit from it too.