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The Pearl

Perlan (English: The Pearl) is a prominent landmark in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík. It is situated on the top of Öskjuhlíð hill. What was originally a cluster of hot water tanks was in 1991 converted to a building open to the public. It hosts an exhibition, a planetarium, an observation deck, and a restaurant.


In 1939, a single hot water tank was constructed on Öskjuhlíð hill in Reykjavík, where Perlan stands today. It is 61 meters above sea level, which gives enough pressure to push water up to the 10th floor of a building, 38 meters above sea level. That sufficed to supply water anywhere in Reykjavík – even to the hill where Hallgrímskirkja church stands today. In the next two decades, five more tanks rose beside the first one. They were torn down and reconstructed in the late eighties.

In 1991, those six hot water tanks became the base of Perlan, a building open to the public. This project was largely at the behest of Davíð Oddsson, during his time as mayor of Reykjavík. Shaped and named after a pearl, it now characterizes Iceland’s capital – in the minds of citizens and travelers alike. Each tank can keep up to five million liters of hot water, with the volume of 5000 m3.

The Pearl


  • Wonders of Iceland is an exhibition that shows of Icelandic nature, glaciers, geysers, and volcanoes. There is also a timeline explaining how Iceland was formed and how life in Iceland evolved. Wonders of Iceland includes an replica of Látrabjarg cliff.
  • An exhibition about the role of water in Icelandic nature.
  • A planetarium that shows Icelandic nature and the solar system.
  • A photographic exhibition showcasing the works of nature photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson.

Observation deck

Being situated on the top of a hill, Perlan offers a view over Reykjavík, the surrounding areas, and the local airport.

The Pearl