Thingvellir National Park – world heritage

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Thingvellir National Park is important because of its history, geology and cultural importance

History

Icelanders founded the world´s first parliament Alþingi at Thingvellir National Park in 930.

During the Common Wealth, Iceland was divided into quarters and each quarter had nine Goðar or Chieftains, apart from North Iceland, which had three further Chieftains. All together Iceland had 39 Chieftains who met up in Thingvellir annually to settle disputes, exact compensations and protect their people.

Geology

You can literally stand on two continents at the same time when in Thingvellir. The continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates can be seen in the cracks in the area. Almannagjá is the biggest one, a real canyon.

That’s not all; you can actually scuba dive between the drifts in the river Silfrá (Silver river).

Thingvellir National Park is on the world heritage list. The national park is a natural wonder on geographic scale.

Cultural importance

Thingvellir National Park has served as the meeting point for Icelandic culture. During the Common Wealth period, people would travel from all over the country and meet in Thingvellir. These get-togethers were big events, sometimes counting thousands of people. People would set up temporary housing and stay there for two weeks. Goods and services were sold, beer was brewed on site and entertainers performed. People played games and exchanged news from their part of the country. You could say that these gatherings were a bit a’la modern festivals before the internet.

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Northern lights at Thingvellir

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A summerhouse at Thingvellir

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUOTE
Að fortíð skal hyggja, ef frumlegt skal byggja.
- Take notice of the past if you would achieve originality

From Aldamót (Turn of the Century),  by Einar Benediktsson

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Flosagjá at Thingvellir National Park

 

What to do in Thingvellir National Park

• Visit the “lawrock” where the Icelanders used to make laws and settle disputes

• Go birdwatching, the area is notorious for excellent bird scenery

• Scuba dive in Silfra, one of 10 best scuba diving places in the world

• See the stunning autumn colours in Thingvellir

• Take a hike in Thingvellir and see the fissures of the area making evident the rifting of the earth crust.

• Throw money into Peningagjá (“coin fissure”) and make your wish. A place where things get done! Where wishes become reality, at least we believe so! Who knows, maybe this becomes your lucky day!

P.S: Almost all Icelanders have at one point or another thrown our kronas into Peningagjá (“coin fissure”) and made a wish. Many divers have tried to reach the kronas, however none has succeeded so far due to the cold water.

Enjoy your visit to Thingvellir National Park. Combined with its mind-blowing nature and unique history, it is a sight you will never forget.

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The waterfall Öxarár at Thingvellir National Park


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  1. Iceland Writers Retreat - Trip to Iceland travel blog - 6. February 2014

    [...] Thingvellir National Park [...]

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