Iceland: A Captivating Land of Contrasts



Photography and Text by Angela Pan


Iceland is a small and beautiful country of contrasts. It has a population of only 323,002 people, over 60% of whom live in its capital city, Reykjavik. Much of Reykjavik’s charm comes from the fact that it is stuck between being a small city and a large village. Its streets are peppered with colourful townhouses that are a relief to the eye during the cold, sleet-filled days that are all-too common in Iceland.




One of the most striking landmarks in Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja Church, which was constructed over a period of 41 years from 1945 to 1986. Said to resemble the lava flows that are common in Iceland’s landscape, the church towers over the majority of the city and can be seen from almost any place in Reykjavik.


From afar, the building is commonly likened to a spaceship. Yet from below, Hallgrimskirkja takes a very different form.


Reykjavik’s colour palette is dominantly blue, silver, brown and black. The weather in Iceland is extraordinarily bipolar: in early March, most days are filled with a combination of rain, sleet, and hail. In the rare moments where the skies clear, however, Reykjavik can be striking.


The colours of Iceland’s countryside are a unique mesh of ash grey, straw yellow, and moss green due to its volcanically-active terrain. Outside of Iceland’s capital city is an entirely different world.

AngelaPan_photography_iceland_countryside_road_highway_mountain_moss_car copy

Three hours from Reykjavik lies the famed “Golden Circle” scenic area, which features some of Iceland’s most famous sights. The landscape of the Golden Circle is highly geothermal, and is peppered with beautiful mountains and valleys. The famous Geysers erupt every 5-10 minutes, and flocks of tourists descend upon them each year to capture their beauty.




These striking contrasts between Reykjavik and the highlands that surround it are what make Iceland such a captivating and unique travel destination.



geyser Iceland landscape

Photography and Text by Angela Pan, Copyright 2016.


portrait of Angela Pan
Portrait of Angela Pan by Yujia “Alice” Qiu

About The Author: Angela Pan is a senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania.  Class of 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *