Christmas 2012 has just come and gone and if you happened to be visiting the capital city of Iceland, you might have felt you were in Santa’s village, with all the Christmas adornments. Everywhere and everything was and still is lit up brightly and if you weren’t quite into the holiday spirit, the spirit all around Reykjavik would have cured your “bah, humbug” issues. But just because the holiday season is over, doesn’t mean the vibrant spirit of the city is gone. Winter is the height of the city’s cultural scene and you are welcomed to join in on it all – you just have to get there!
One special place that will be quite a sight for your eyes to fall upon and bring merriment to your auditory senses is the Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre. The design of this magnificent looking structure is a beautiful play between shape and colours. It has a large segment that seems almost monolithic but it is far from lacking character. The countless windows on the entire structure, formed in such a beehive-like design with its strategically placed coloured glass panels gives it that liveliness and brilliance of playfulness when the day or evening lights reflect off of and/or shine from them. Due to this, the building itself looks like a lit musical instrument, like the lit up keys of a piano (not unlike the giant piano keys which Tom Hanks’ character plays on in the 80s film “Big”- giant keys that currently still exist at the FAO Schwartz store in New York City), or like the famous scene in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” where music and lights are the form of communication. The Harpa is definitely a place you need to see up close!
One landmark structure that you need to check out is the Perlan, known as “The Pearl” in English; that is located on the hill of Oskjuhlid, which itself is a precious wooded area with many walking and bicycle paths that can be enjoyed. Technically, the Perlan is a structure of six huge water tanks that each can each hold up to four million litres of water and sitting atop the tanks is a magnificent glass dome. Inside the dome you will find the Perlan’s cafeteria where you can get a nice treat of baked goods, soups and sandwiches but just outside the dome you can see the city from six different vantage points on the viewing deck. Back inside you mustn’t miss picking up a lovely Icelandic souvenir and if Christmas is still on your mind, browse through the joyful wonders of the holidays all-year round at that Christmas Store! The Harpa is not the only place you can catch a nice concert. Here at the Perlan you may find a variety of events, from concerts to expositions and art shows held in the Winter Garden area which is 10,000 cubic metres of space for just these kinds of displays and performances. Make it a whole day event by ending your tour of the Perlan at its fine restaurant, as it slowly rotates a full 360 degrees over two hours. Enjoy a delectable meal with a choice selection of fine wines and cocktails and enjoy the panoramic view of the city!
One of the most significant museums in Reykjavik that would inspire you and satiate your curiosity about Icelandic culture would be the National Museum of Iceland. Established in 1863, the archives and historic artifacts have been collected and maintained under various roofs: in the attic of the Cathedral, the Parliament Building and even in the National Bank, until it finally found permanency in its current location. Among its permanent collection you can view “The Making of a Nation” that showcases the history and heritage of Iceland. Holding over 2000 artifacts in this collection, you will be taken back to the Settlement Age and tracing history through to present day. The exhibition is set up in a story-like adventure across time, so it should be a hit with both adults and children who love a grand tale!
Begin your winter exploration of Iceland today!