In Iceland, people refer to one another as Vikings.
It's a term of strong endearment and high respect. It's most often bestowed upon tall, strong men with piercing blue eyes and big, capable bodies. But it's also used for brave women, too. When I think about "Viking" in this respect, I think it's really a term that anyone can pin on themselves once they've faced a few fears and fought a few demons, but it's certainly used with special intent in Iceland.
It was a sweet surprise, therefore, when I saw that that Reyjkavik's Cathedral, Hallgrímskirkja, looked a little like the curved peak viking's helmet. Or is that just me? Either way I was curious what the city looked like from the view at the top of the cathedral, that helmet's peak...
Beautifully stark inside, strikingly modern on the outside and bravely different from the many other cathedrals I've stepped inside, Hallgrímskirkja isn't exactly dissimilar from a Viking, as it watches over Reykjavik city from a great height. It also lets you do the same. Lifts you up - via the medium of an elevator - to a windy viewing platform where you can peer through barred windows and marvel at the colours of Reykjavik's houses. In terms of numbers, Reykjavik is not a big city though it stretches across an area larger than Paris, apparently.
But it still feels small. This is a good thing.
In the UK Reykjavik would be considered a decent sized town, but it certainly has a city's personality. It is wonderfully unique, brilliantly quaint and well worth protecting. I, for one, am glad that it has a strong Viking of a Cathedral doing exactly that. It costs 700 ISK for a ticket to the top of Hallgrímskirkja but the rest of the Cathedral is free to visit.
Frances M. Thompson
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