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Reykjavík of Yore: Laugardalshöllin

Reykjavík of Yore: Laugardalshöllin

Valur Grettisson
Photos by
Art Bicnick
Reykjavík Museum Of Photography

Published March 27, 2017

Laugardalshöllin was Iceland’s largest gymnasium for decades. The house was designed by Gísli Halldórsson and Skarphéðinn Jóhannesson, and its construction finished in the year 1965.

It has significant meaning for Icelanders—not only as a sports arena, but also as the battleground for one of the strangest events of the Cold War, when Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in the World Chess Championship of 1972. The duel between the two was not only a battle of wits between two Grandmasters, but also became a proxy battle between their two superpowers, and a manifestation of their obsession to prove the other’s ideology wrong. Of course, time proved them both wrong.

Laugardalshöllin was also Iceland’s premier rock concert hall. Led Zeppelin played there in 1970, when they were still at the top of their game. Leonard Cohen played in 1988, and David Bowie followed almost a decade later. And of course, between the crazy intellectual duels and legendary rock concerts, Icelanders used the house occasionally for traditional sporting events.

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