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Photographer's Note

The Basilica of Christ the King is the seat of the Catholic church in Iceland. It is, of course, basilica like only in name and design. As for size it's not much larger than a parish church in the United States or Italy. But then Iceland only has a few thousand Catholics. Iceland's state religion has been a branch of Lutheranism for some hundreds of years now after that whole Reformation thing happened.

To me this church, designed by Gu­jˇn Sam˙elsson, is much more attractive than the much more famous and much more photographed HalgrÝmskirkja across town (also by Sam˙elsson). Although individual features of HalgrÝmskirkja are very attractive and it has a beautiful interior, the Dˇmkirkja is a much more whole and thought out design. There is a continuity of flow throughout it, from tower to nave to apse and even to interior that the other church just does not have. HalgrÝmskirkja is more like really cool pieces stuck together without any thought to how it would look all put together.

But, anyway, that's my very brief critique of Halgrimskirkja.

The cathedral here was designed with a neo-gothic style but in a very Icelandic sense. The tall shafts around the tower and elsewhere on the building are representations of the natural basalt shafts that can be found all across the island and was a favorite motif of Sam˙elsson. He also used concrete which, along with the basalt shaft motif, played in perfectly with the verticality that is such a part of gothic architecture. Thus this Icelandic architect gave an Icelandic and modern touch to what could have easily been a generic 1920's Neo-Gothic building like the many Ralph Adams Cram churches that dot the United States.

For the consecration of the cathedral in 1929 Pius XI sent a special envoy from Rome who brought gifts, including a cedar sculpture of Jesus standing on the world. And 70 years later Pope John Paul II himself showed up in Iceland for a visit to the Cathedral.

medio, Didi, avene, jpinkham, bertolucci, vascao, kajenn has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Paul Mastrogiacomo (pamastro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2684 W: 166 N: 2676] (7218)
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