Skálholt Cathedral

With its Cathedral Skálholt of our time is more than history. It is a place of worship, art and music, but also a place of quiet contemplation.

The building of the Cathedral was started in the 1956 and it was consecrated in 1963. Before building work started archaeological excavations were undertaken as it was known that the previous nine churches had been on exactly the same site. Expectations were high what the excavations would bring forth as the stories of some of the medieval bishops were well known, e.g. that one of the Páll Jónsson (1195-1211 AD) who had been buried in a stone coffin. In August 1954 a young member of the archaeological team came down on a rather unnatural stone which happened to be a stone coffin. When it was opened the remains of the bishop were found. This stone coffin is on an exhibition in the crypt under the Cathedral, where there is also a stone tunnel dating from the 13th century.

The Cathedral is decorated with 25 stained glass windows made by the artist Gerður Helgadóttir. In a highly symbolic and abstract manner they represent Christian symbolism and some of the bishops of Skálholt from medieval times.

The altarpiece was made by another Icelandic woman artist Nína Tryggvadóttir and depicts Christ “breaking into” the Cathedral with the landscape of Southern Iceland as a backdrop.

The modern art in the Cathedral is considered among the most important in Icelandic 20th century art.

There are also a few old artifacts from the Cathedral of bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson which was consecrated in 1650, for example the pulpit.

The construction the Cathedral was partially financed through donations from the Nordic countries and receiving some of the instruments as gifts, e.g. the church bells and the organ.