Two years ago I visited Iceland, including its capital, Reykjavík. Now if anyone were to go see that city, one building that would immediately stand out is the Harpa – a concert hall completed in 2011. I honestly can’t remember much of what I was told about it, except that it was horrendously expensive and led to higher taxes and there are Icelanders who are very unhappy with it.

That said, the Harpa is an interesting-looking building, full of sharp and angular shapes.

Exterior of the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland.

It looks even more interesting on the inside than on the outside. Everything is asymmetric and the walls are matt black and concrete, not what you might associate with a concert and conference venue.


The ceiling is covered with reflective mirror-like panels, which I suppose go some way in reflecting the light that comes in through the sides of the building and making things a little brighter. It’s also fun to look up and try to find your reflection in one of the angled mirrors.

Lattice structure of the wall of the Harpa in Iceland, along with mirrors placed on the ceiling.

The Harpa has a restaurant at the ground level. I’ve not tried it so I’m not in a position to comment on the food, although I will say that it’s probably expensive by continental standards (like every other eatery in Iceland).

If you’re on the upper levels you’d be able to stare down at the restaurant and people watch. Not that it makes for an interesting experience anyway, since the only movement you’d see would be customers getting to or leaving their tables and service staff walking about.

Overhead view of diners at the ground-level restaurant at the Harpa concert hall in Iceland.

Finally, we get to the real reason I’m in love with the Harpa. With its many couches and easy-to-find location, it makes for a good rest spot. Of course, by resting I really mean napping. I visited Reykjavík in the years 2013 and 2015, and both times visited the Harpa and got awed by its architecture, after which I decided to take a short nap.

Tourists taking a nap on the couches of the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Very refreshing! And I’m sure many tourists must have felt the same way. So here we are, a substantial quantity of kronas to finance this building, which then serves the public interest by providing a space where people can briefly slumber and reinvigorate themselves to experience more of Iceland’s marvels.

Shrewd, these Vikings.

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