The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of the Passion Hymns. State Architect Guðjón Samúelsson’s design of the church was commissioned in 1937. He is said to have designed it to resemble the trap rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape.
The construction started in 1945 and ended in 1986, but the landmark tower being completed long before the whole church was completed. The interior is 1,676 square meters. At 74.5 meters high, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country. In 2008, the church underwent a major restoration of the main tower, and was covered in scaffolding. In late 2009, restoration was completed and the scaffolding was removed.
The church houses a large pipe organ by the German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn. The church is also used as an observation tower. An observer can take a lift up to the viewing deck and view Reykjavík and the surrounding mountains.