Reykjavik's Statues and Sculptures

Reykjavik has a number of spectacular statues and sculptures which tell of its history and art.

This is very possible because one of the greatest sculptors, Listasafn Einars Jonssonar, was resident there. His home was directly across the road from the church on the hill and so, while we waited for the congregants to leave after the morning service we went across to see it. There was a beautiful Sculpture Garden which we truly enjoyed exploring but we didn’t go into the house as time was limited.

Sculptors home

Home of Jonssonar

Jonssonar sculpted many of the monuments in the city including the one of Leif Erickson (spelt Leifur Eiríksson in Icelandic and also known as Leif the Lucky), who established Viking settlements in Iceland. This statue stands in front of the Hallgrímskirkja Church which was actually built after the statue was erected.

leif erikson

Leif Erikson

On the harbour wall was the stainless steel replica of a Viking Ship. It is a really beautiful structure. We were not the only ones who wanted to get a photo of the ship but, sad to say, there are so many people who give no consideration to others and simply take over the whole spot, taking an awfully long time while they pose and take their selfies. We waited until we could take our photo without so many around.

Replica of Viking Ship

Replica of a Viking ship

An aside, about taking photos. I am waiting for the action of sinking, by day, of lamp posts because no matter how hard one tries there always seems to be at least one that gets itself into the photo.

Downtown were a number of interesting statues and sculptures by Jonssonar and other sculptors. In my blog on the buildings I mentioned the statue of Hans Hafstein, politician and poet in Iceland. At one time he was the Prime Minister and was the first Icelandic Minister for Iceland in the Danish Cabinet. Iceland is now completely independent from Denmark and is a member of the Schengen community. This was a bit of luck for us as it meant one less visa which had to be obtained.

Icelandic Courthouse monument to Hans Hafstein

Hans Hafstein in front of the Courthouse

Outside the Harpa or Concert Hall and Conference Centre is a sculpture of Scandinavian and world renowned cellist, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, by sculptor Ólöf Pálsdóttir, which depicts the main purpose of the Harpa. This sculpture was previously in front of the cinema in town but, at the request of his widow, it was moved to its current position.

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson by sculptor Ólöf Pálsdóttir Erling Blöndal Bengtsson,

Opposite the Parliament buildings is the Austurvollur Square with a statue of Jon Sigurdsson, an Icelandic Scholar and Statesman who collected and edited old Nose sagas and documents. His passion as a statesman was to fight for Icelandic independence which was successful when, in 1845, King Christian IX of Denmark handed over an independent constitution for Iceland. Sigurdsson was one of the first members of the Iceland Alþing (Althing in English) following independence.

Statue of Jon Sigurdsson

Jon Sigurdsson

On a corner near the Parliament Buildings is a statue of King Christian IX handing over the Constitution. 

Outside the original Cathedral Building, also near the Parliament Buildings, is a bust of the first Pastor of this Church, Rasmus Jørgen Winther. He arrived in 1780 and immediately arranged for the building of a new church which was completed in 1795.

18th century cathedral

Bust of Rasmus Jørgen Winther (on the right) outside the Domkirkjan

Between this church and the lake near the City Hall is a most interesting sculpture called The Unknown Bureaucrat by Magnús Tómasson on 1993. It is meant to be both serious and satirical about the working life of a bureaucrat. He has a huge weight on his shoulders and always carries a briefcase. While we were there a number of people stood beside him, posing as if holding his briefcase, for a photo. 

Unknown bureaucrat

The Unknown Bureaucrat

On top of a hill, Arnarhóll, not far from the centre of town was a statue which took a little effort to reach as it was up a steep path and then some stairs. Ingólfur Arnarson was the first Norse man to settle in Iceland in 874 AD, leaving Norway due to a blood feud in which he was involved.

Viking Ingolfur Arnarson

Ingólfur Arnarson

In front of the Perlan is a fascinating sculpture of 4 Icelandic dancers, The Perlan Dancers.

Icelandic dancers 2

These are not all of the sculptures in the city, which has been described as an outdoor museum by some, but they are the ones which we saw, learnt something about and photographed.


About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

Featured Posts