Thingvellir National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, both due to extra-ordinary geology and its place in Icelandic history.
Thingvellir has a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. This is the place where the Althing was set during the Settlement Era.Wwhere many pivotal decision were made.
This is also the place where you can see how two tectonic plates are slowly (but surely) drifting apart and how it shapes the land.
Thingvellir National Park is a part of the Golden Circle along with Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall.
Thingvellir in history
Ever since Iceland was settled by the first Norse settlers, Thingvellir has played a significant role in our history. This is where they decided to have Althing, the world’s oldest still-active parliament.
In Althing they came together, discussed law and tried to settle disputes without violence. In fact, Althing was like a summer fare, with a congress and legal affairs thrown in between.
The importance of Althing becomes ever more apparent, when you read through the Sagas and the middle-age literature. Almost all the sagas have a scene or two that takes place in Althing.
This is also the place where Icelanders, in the year 1000 AD, decided to become Christians. We like to portray that this happened peacefully, that one man, Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi, simply decided this and everybody followed suit.
Of course, history is never that simple. In Althing that year almost every able man came, armed to the teeth and stood with either the Christians or the Old Religion, the heathens that believed in Odinn and Thor. To prevent a bloodshed, the leaders of the two groups decided that Thorgeir, one of the wisest of the heathens, would decide this.
After pondering on this for three days, he decreed that all Icelanders should be Christians. But those who wished to venerate the old gods could do so in their own homes.
Thingvellir and Geology
When you visit Thingvellir, you will understand better why the settlers choose this place. There’s a enigmatic energy all around, like some primordial elemental power waiting to be released.
Volcanoes dot the horizon, evident by the massive lava fields and geothermal heat. Even in the deep blue water of lake Thingvallavatn you can see small volcanic islands. This is a hot spot.
You can see and experience how two tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart. We are often told that these two plates are in fact the Eurasian and the North-American plate, that you can stand on the borders between these two continents.
Once more, things aren’t that simple. It is true, that one of these plates is the North-American plate, but nestled between these two immense plates is a very small plate, called Hreppafleki, and you can see that plate drift away from the North-American plate.
This small plate can cause huge earthquakes in South-Iceland, the largest one was in 1912 and was 7.0 on the Richter scale. The most recent one was in 2008 and was 6.2.
The single best way to experience Thingvellir and the rest of the Golden Circle is in a luxury Private tour, with a local expert guide. We are more than happy to help you. Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch as soon as possible.