Vesturbær

At the top of Túngata, Landakotskirkja (the Catholic cathedral) is the centre of the postal district 107 Reykjavík – the Vesturbær (West Town) – once the western extent of the city. The first Catholic priests to arrive in Iceland after the Reformation and the consecration of the Dómkirkjan in Austurvöllur were French: Bernard Bernard and Jean-Baptiste Baudoin. They bought the Landakot farmstead in Reykjavík and built a small chapel there in 1864. After World War One, Icelandic Catholics saw the need to build a bigger church to accommodate their growing number. They decided to build a neo-Gothic church and entrusted the task to the architect Guðjón Samúelsson. After years of construction, Landakotskirkja was finally sanctified on 23 July 1929. It was the largest church in Iceland until the Hallgrímskirkja was built by the same architect. It has a distinctively flat top instead of a standard spire. The furniture inside was designed and built by J. W. Ramakers (Holland). The side altars and pulpit were installed during the construction of the cathedral, but although Ramakers made a design of the main altar, it was never delivered.


On leaving the cathedral, go straight ahead down Ægisgata between a massive and bleak hospital building on your left and the Russian Embassy on your right. You are now in Vesturbær, and the contrast with Austurbær (around Hlemmur) could not be more stark: Reykjavík’s richer families live here. Take the next right onto Öldugata and descend the hill, turning right at the bottom onto Garðastræti and then left onto Grjótagata, a pretty little cobbled hill street. You will find yourself back at Víkurgarður and the statue of Skúli Magnússon. Turn left here along Aðalstræti.

Next: Ingólfstorg to Harpa