The house of the nation, Alþingishúsið

Alþingishúsið at Austurvöllur was built between 1880 and 1881. Since then, two annexes have been built next to the original building, Kringlan in 1908, and Skálinn in 2002. It was at Alþingi 1867 that it was approved to build an Icelandic stone parliament building in Reykjavík to commemorate thousand years of Iceland’s settlement in 1874. However, it was not until 1879 at Alþingi that a budget was approved to build a house that would not only be a building for Alþingi, but also a house for the country’s museums and higher educational institutions. Ferdinand Meldahl, president of the University of the Arts in Copenhagen and master builder was commissioned to draw up designs for the house. The design was to be the subject of a great controversy for not to be built at Arnarhóll, because Governor Hilmar Finsen used fields there, but in the baker’s slope, where Bankastræti 7 is now.  In the fall of 1879 they start digging the foundation in Bankastræti but when the master carpenter, F. Bald arrives in the country to build the house, with a fine entourage of stonemasons from Borgundarhólmur, he refuses to build the building there in the steep slope so again disputes over the location start. Finally Halldór Kr. Friðrikson’s, member of parliament and teacher, cabbage patch was bought for a great prize, located west of the Cathedral. The stones that make up the house are taken from Þingholt where you can now find Óðinsgata.


Alþingishúsið Austurvöllur, in December 2022, next to the Cathedral which was built in 1796, 85 years before the Alþingishúsið

Speaker of Alþingi Birgir Ármannsson in his office, which was the office of the President of Iceland, from 1941 to 1971. Birgir has sat in parliament for 19 years for the Independence Party in Reykjavík.

Old and new times, the corridor between Alþingishúsið and Skálinn . Kringlan can be seen on the right, built in 1908

Vér mótmælum allir, painting by Gunnlaugur Blöndal, from the National Assembly in 1851. Jón Sigurðsson president standing in gray on the right. The painting hangs in the lobby of Alþingishúsið, but the event was a great boost to Iceland’s struggle for independence.


The hall, the Icelandic Parliament has 63 members of parliament

Photographs & text : Páll Stefánsson

Reykjavík 19/12/ 2022 : A7RIV, A7C, A7R III : FE 1.2/50mm GM, FE 1.4/24mm GM, FE 1.8/14mm GM