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Þingvellir National Park

January 22, 2018

Golden-Circle-and-Fontana-Steam-bath

Þingvellir National Park

January 22, 2018

One of the most popular places in Iceland to visit, both for Icelanders and foreigners, is Þingvellir National Park. It takes only about 40 minutes to drive from Reykjavík to the park, which is one of the stops of the popular Golden Circle.

Stand in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

A significant portion of the park is situated between the Eurasian and North-American plates, which lie a few kilometres apart. So, technically, the park is neither in Europe nor North-America and is smack in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The ridge is also pulling the country apart by about 2.5 CM (1”) per year.

Iceland is the only place in the world where you can see these tectonic plates above ground, and the effect of the continental drift can clearly be seen by the cracks that crisscross the park. The largest of the cracks is Almannagjá which is the main walkway in Þingvellir. Until the late 1960s, the ravine was a part of the main road from Reykjavík to Þingvellir.

The ecosystem in the park makes a unique whole with the geology. In the mineral-rich Lake Þingvallavatn live three of five freshwater fish species in Iceland, and apart from algae, over 150 different plant species and about 50 kinds of invertebrates live in or around the lake.

A Historically Important Site

Apart from being a geologically important place, it is also a very historically important, especially for the Icelandic nation. It is the place where Alþingi, the world’s oldest parliament, was founded as well as the place where Icelanders decided to become Christian. It was used as an execution spot for centuries, and women were drowned in Drekkingarhylur, most often for some sort of sexual offence.

During the 1000-year anniversary of Alþingi, it was decided to make Þingvellir a national park, the first in Iceland. It had taken 50 years to become a reality. In 2004, the park was put on UNESCO’s preservation list as a world heritage site, the first for Iceland.

Alþingi was held at Þingvellir every year until the late 18th century when the Danish king, which ruled over Iceland at the time, disbanded it. After the independence movement of Iceland grew during the 19th century, Alþingi was re-established in 1845.

Originally, parliamentarians, who were called Law Sayers (Lögsögumenn) met in Þingvellir en recited the laws of the land, discussed what needed to be discussed and changed laws if needed be. When the parliament was re-established, it was moved to the Latin School in Reykjavík, where MR (Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík) is now. About 40 years later it was moved to the current house by Austurvöllur park.

Tv Shows and Films

Þingvellir has been used a few times as a setting in the popular tv show Game of Thrones. Scenes in Sense8 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were also shot in the area.

Trivia

Lake Þingvallavatn is the largest natural lake in Iceland. It covers about 84 m2, lies at about 100 km above sea level and is 114 metres deep.

90% of the lake’s water comes from Langjökull glacier through underground channels. It takes the water between 20 and 30 years to reach the lake.

Icelanders got their first constitution in 1874 when King Kristian IX of Denmark gave it to them in Þingvellir while they were celebrating 1000 year of settlement in Iceland.

The 1000-year anniversary of Alþingi was celebrated in Þingvellir in 1930.

The 1000-year anniversary of Iceland as a Christian nation was celebrated in Þingvellir in the year 2000.

Iceland celebrated its newly gotten independence in Þingvellir, 17 June 1944.

Thingvellir istock

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Golden-Circle-and-Fontana-Steam-bath

Þingvellir National Park

January 22, 2018

Golden-Circle-and-Fontana-Steam-bath

Þingvellir National Park

January 22, 2018

One of the most popular places in Iceland to visit, both for Icelanders and foreigners, is Þingvellir National Park. It takes only about 40 minutes to drive from Reykjavík to the park, which is one of the stops of the popular Golden Circle.

Stand in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

A significant portion of the park is situated between the Eurasian and North-American plates, which lie a few kilometres apart. So, technically, the park is neither in Europe nor North-America and is smack in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The ridge is also pulling the country apart by about 2.5 CM (1”) per year.

Iceland is the only place in the world where you can see these tectonic plates above ground, and the effect of the continental drift can clearly be seen by the cracks that crisscross the park. The largest of the cracks is Almannagjá which is the main walkway in Þingvellir. Until the late 1960s, the ravine was a part of the main road from Reykjavík to Þingvellir.

The ecosystem in the park makes a unique whole with the geology. In the mineral-rich Lake Þingvallavatn live three of five freshwater fish species in Iceland, and apart from algae, over 150 different plant species and about 50 kinds of invertebrates live in or around the lake.

A Historically Important Site

Apart from being a geologically important place, it is also a very historically important, especially for the Icelandic nation. It is the place where Alþingi, the world’s oldest parliament, was founded as well as the place where Icelanders decided to become Christian. It was used as an execution spot for centuries, and women were drowned in Drekkingarhylur, most often for some sort of sexual offence.

During the 1000-year anniversary of Alþingi, it was decided to make Þingvellir a national park, the first in Iceland. It had taken 50 years to become a reality. In 2004, the park was put on UNESCO’s preservation list as a world heritage site, the first for Iceland.

Alþingi was held at Þingvellir every year until the late 18th century when the Danish king, which ruled over Iceland at the time, disbanded it. After the independence movement of Iceland grew during the 19th century, Alþingi was re-established in 1845.

Originally, parliamentarians, who were called Law Sayers (Lögsögumenn) met in Þingvellir en recited the laws of the land, discussed what needed to be discussed and changed laws if needed be. When the parliament was re-established, it was moved to the Latin School in Reykjavík, where MR (Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík) is now. About 40 years later it was moved to the current house by Austurvöllur park.

Tv Shows and Films

Þingvellir has been used a few times as a setting in the popular tv show Game of Thrones. Scenes in Sense8 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were also shot in the area.

Trivia

Lake Þingvallavatn is the largest natural lake in Iceland. It covers about 84 m2, lies at about 100 km above sea level and is 114 metres deep.

90% of the lake’s water comes from Langjökull glacier through underground channels. It takes the water between 20 and 30 years to reach the lake.

Icelanders got their first constitution in 1874 when King Kristian IX of Denmark gave it to them in Þingvellir while they were celebrating 1000 year of settlement in Iceland.

The 1000-year anniversary of Alþingi was celebrated in Þingvellir in 1930.

The 1000-year anniversary of Iceland as a Christian nation was celebrated in Þingvellir in the year 2000.

Iceland celebrated its newly gotten independence in Þingvellir, 17 June 1944.

Thingvellir istock

The RE blog

Into the Glacier
Fjaðrárgljúfur
kirkjufell-12x7
Golden-Circle-and-Fontana-Steam-bath
Reykjanes
BlueLagoon1
Hraunfossar3
RE05-Reykjavik Panorama

Five things glacial to do in Iceland

Recommended glacier-related activities for you to consider – happy icing!

Read more