Tuesday, March 27


Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík; the Marble Church, and Grundtvigskirche, Copenhagen

The Hallgrímskirkja, [more here, if you parlez le Icelandic: www.hallgrimskirkja.is], a Lutheran church named after the seventeenth-century poet-cleric Hallgrímur Pétursson, is a rather striking structure, despite its massive and perhaps even oppressive plainness. It is one of those buildings, like the equally titanic if far more exuberant Sagrada Familia, that I am not sure what to make of, and not sure I really want to imitate or even can, but am glad exists. The interior is an interesting, if extremely stark, art-deco spin on Gothic--far too plain for my tastes, due to the lack of mediative moldings and such detail, but certainly intriguing in terms of space. The apse cries out for a high altar, though. It reminds me of that supremely odd-looking and faintly frightening Hanseatic Gothic-deco extravaganza, the Grundtvigskirche in Copengahen, which resembles nothing so much as an old radio. Like its Icelandic cousin, it's intriguing, if a little weird, and the Gothic interior verges on an astonishing--if rather chilly--brilliance.

Such stark designs are not necessarily the ideal for most Catholic churches, but offer very good ideas for a builder looking to achieve great results with limited means.

And while we're on the subject of Scandinavian church architecture, I must put in a good word for the marble church in Copenhagen, which looks like it could easily be equally at home in Rome's Piazza del Popolo, or the Superga's chubby cousin. Unsurprisingly, it's my favorite of these three.

Images via Flickr

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