The Imagine Peace Tower is a memorial to John Lennon from Yoko Ono, located on the island of Viðey, just off the coast of Reykjavík. She described it as the tower’s inauguration as the best thing that they have ever done.
The name of the tower is a reflection of John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’, as well as he and Yoko’s greater mission.
The base of the Imagine Peace Tower is white stone, and around it are the words ‘Imagine Peace’ in 24 languages. In the middle of it is a wishing well with a width of ten metres (33 feet), within which is 15 searchlights.
The lights of the Peace Tower are turned on from John Lennon’s birthday on October 9th, and off on the anniversary of his death, on November 8th, as well as on special occasions. Yoko Ono, who often travels to Iceland, is regularly in attendance for its lighting.
In clear weather, the ‘tower’ can reach a height of over four kilometres (2.5 miles), and it is powerful enough to pierce through cloud cover.
The Tower uses geothermal energy as its powersource; the fact it could be constructed with such a minimal impact on the environment was a large part of the reason that Yoko Ono chose Iceland for the project.
Construction on the tower was completed in 2007, and opened with a ceremony that was attended by Yoko Ono, Ringo Starr, George Harrison’s family and John Lennon’s son; Paul McCartney intended to but eventually could not attend due to a court case. The event was televised across much of the world.
Beneath the Imagine Peace Tower are over a million buried ‘wishes’, which were collected by Yoko Ono during her project, Wish Trees. In this project, an exhibition of trees, native to the country the exhibition was in, were lined up and people were encouraged to tie their wishes on a piece of paper to their branches.
The Imagine Peace Tower is one of the main reasons people visit Viðey Island. Boats regularly leave from Reykjavík’s harbour to the island, and are free for those who have purchased a Reykjavík City Card.
The Imagine Peace Tower, however, is not the only attraction; there is a second, less known artwork spanning the island, called Milestones, by Richard Sierra.
No-one lives on the island permanently, although it was once inhabited. The lack of buildings, therefore, makes it a great place to hunt for the Northern Lights from September to April. To see them dancing around the beam of light from the Imagine Peace Tower is a particularly unique experience.
The isolation of Viðey also makes it a popular place for birdwatchers to come. Particularly of note is the White Tailed Eagle, which makes its home on such islands around Reykjavík.
The only building remaining on Viðey is the Viðeyjarstofa House, constructed in the 1750s. It now contains a restaurant, and is the base for the hikes around the island.