• Home
  • See & do
  • Alþingi - Parliament House

Alþingi - Parliament House

Kirkjutorg 4, Reykjavík 101, 5630500


Parliament House, which stands on Austurvöllur square, was built in 1880–81. Two annexes have been added to the original building, Kringlan (the Rotunda) in 1908and Skálinn in 2002. The garden of Parliament House is Iceland's oldest public garden. Dating from 1893–95, it was largely the work of parliamentarian/bank director Tryggvi Gunnarsson. In 1867 Althingi resolved to mark the millennium of the settlement of Iceland by holding a national festival in 1874, and by building a Parliament House in Reykjavík, of Icelandic stone. There was some debate on a location for the new building: suggestions included the Arnarhóll grass field (where a statue of the first settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, now stands) and Bakarabrekka (between the present Bankastraeti 7 and Laugavegur 1), but Austurstraeti was the final choice. Danish architect Ferdinand Meldahl (1827–1908), director of the Academy of FineArts in Copenhagen, designed the building, which was erected during 1880–81 of hewn basalt from Skólavörduholt hill (site of the present Hallgrímskirkja Church). The exterior of the walls is of barely dressed stone, while the interior is plastered. The façade (north side) of the building bears ornament, most noticeably the crown and crest of King Christian IX on the roof. Under the eaves, the date 1881 is marked in metal numerals interspersed with stars. Over four of the second-floor windows, Iceland's guardian spirits are depicted in low relief: a giant, a great bird, a bull, and a dragon.