Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is the National Park where the Althing - an open-air assembly, which represented the whole of ... More
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is the National Park where the Althing - an open-air assembly, which represented the whole of Iceland - was established in 930 and continued to meet until 1798. Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws - seen as a covenant between free men - and settled disputes. The Althing has deep historical and symbolic associations for the people of Iceland. Located on an active volcanic site, the property includes the Þingvellir National Park and the remains of the Althing itself: fragments of around 50 booths built of turf and stone. Remains from the 10th century are thought to be buried underground. The site also includes remains of agricultural use from 18th and 19th centuries, the Thingvellir Church and adjacent farm, and the population of arctic char in Lake Thingvallavatn. The park shows evidence of the way the landscape was husbanded over 1,000 years.
Green and lush is not what you are expecting in Iceland. Especially when they tell you it is the valley between the American and European teutonic plates. But once you are there, the scenery is beautiful. There are great rocks hoisted out of the ground. They just look powerful. And helps you to understand why for thousands of years, this majesty was the meeting point of the islands clansmen for governing. But then you can look out, and see this huge lake, with geothermal plant exhaust steams in the horizon; that give the sense of mysticisim. And then you walk down into the actual valley between continents (the only place above the ocean floor), and realize how large those rock walls are, and how you feel you are at the bottom of the world.
I went as part of a tour, and we got rushed through a little faster than I would have liked; but then we covered a lot of ground that day. Our tour continued to glacier snowmobiling - which was fantastic! (I highly recommend it as well.)
This was an incredible place with wonderful history and beautiful natural scenery. I went is late April so the grass was still dead but the waterfalls and crystal clear streams and pools were breathtaking. The continental split between the European plate and the North American plate is truly a sight to behold. The walking paths around the park and the road in and out are all worth the trip from Reykjavik and all together it is a place unlike anything else in the world that I have ever seen.
It is the sight of the oldest continuous democracy in the world. The Icelanders call it the Allthing. There are signs indicating various historical events and traditions that took place there. With over 1000 years of history taking place there it is loaded with interesting lore.
It is not too far from the Geysir national park and Gullfoss a magnificent waterfall making it part of the famous Golden Circle, a must see sight in Iceland. Anyone interested in nature and/or history will enjoy this locale. It is completely free to go and walk around but they do offer various tours and activities for various rates.
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