Thingvellir National Park
The history of Thingvellir
Thingvellir National Park is one of Iceland’s most famous and historical national parks. The park is located about 40 km east of the capital, Reykjavik, and spans over an area of approximately 270 km2. The park is situated in a rift valley where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet, making it a unique geological feature and a significant attraction for tourists visiting Iceland. Thingvellir National Park was established in 1930, making it Iceland’s first national park and a vital site for Icelandic history.
The history of Thingvellir National Park dates back to the early Viking Age in Iceland, around the 9th century. Thingvellir was the site of Iceland’s first parliament, Althing, which was established in 930 AD. The parliament was formed to establish laws and settle disputes among the Icelandic settlers. For centuries, people from all around Iceland gathered at Thingvellir every summer to attend the Althing, which continued until the late 18th century.
Apart from being a political center, Thingvellir was also a spiritual center for the Icelanders. According to the Icelandic sagas, many important events took place in the area, including the introduction of Christianity in the year 1000. The Icelandic sagas are historical accounts of events that took place in Iceland during the Viking Age, and many of the stories take place in Thingvellir.
During the 20th century, Thingvellir became a symbol of Iceland’s struggle for independence from Denmark. The Icelandic flag was first raised at Thingvellir on June 17, 1944, when Iceland declared its independence from Denmark. The site was later declared a national park in 1930, preserving its rich history and unique natural features. The park is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its cultural and historical significance, as well as its unique geological features.
Today, Thingvellir National Park is a popular tourist destination for people visiting Iceland. Visitors can explore the park’s unique geological features, such as the Almannagjá rift valley, the Silfra fissure, and the Öxarárfoss waterfall. The park is also an important site for hiking, camping, and fishing. The park’s visitor center provides information about the park’s history, geology, and ecology. Overall, Thingvellir National Park is a symbol of Iceland’s rich history, natural beauty, and cultural heritage.
So if Thingvellir National Park sounds like something you’d like to explore, I’d recommend not buying a tour and visiting by yourself to give you plenty of time.
Visiting Geysir, it’s a matter of luck which will decide how long you are there for. There are several Geysir to stand by and watch. It’s a little like watching paint dry, waiting for something to happen.
You could be editing 3-4 minutes of video before an erruption takes place. Erruptions also vary in size too!
Beyond the Geysirs, there’s also a trail up the hill giving you a vantage point.
The history of Geysir
Geysir is a famous hot spring located in southwestern Iceland, approximately 100 kilometers east of Reykjavik. The name Geysir comes from the Icelandic word “geysa,” which means to gush. The Geysir area is home to a group of geothermal springs, including the famous Strokkur geyser, which erupts every 5-10 minutes, shooting hot water up to 40 meters in the air.
The history of Geysir dates back to the 13th century when it was first mentioned in Icelandic literature. However, it was not until the 18th century that the area became a tourist attraction. In the 19th century, the Geysir area became a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. The first known visitor to the Geysir area was the Danish scientist and explorer Eggert Ólafsson, who visited the area in 1755.
In 1845, the Scottish geologist Robert Chambers wrote about the Geysir area in his book “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,” bringing even more attention to the hot springs. In the early 20th century, the Geysir area was developed into a tourist destination, with the construction of roads and facilities for visitors.
Over the years, the Geysir area has experienced several changes. The original Geysir stopped erupting regularly in the early 20th century, but its smaller neighbor, Strokkur, continues to erupt every few minutes, making it a popular attraction for visitors. In 2000, an earthquake caused the water level to drop in the Geysir area, leading to a decrease in the frequency of Strokkur’s eruptions.
Today, the Geysir area is part of the Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that includes the Gullfoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. The Geysir area remains one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, with visitors coming to see the impressive eruptions and explore the surrounding geothermal landscape.
In recent years, concerns have been raised about the impact of tourism on the Geysir area’s fragile ecosystem. Efforts have been made to manage the area sustainably and limit the number of visitors to protect the unique natural features of the Geysir area for future generations to enjoy.
The mist from Gullfoss reaches you from quote a distance, that’s how powerful it was. The sound was also powerful too!
Gullfoss is a stunning waterfall located in southwestern Iceland, near the Geysir geothermal area. The name Gullfoss means “Golden Falls” in Icelandic, and it is considered one of Iceland’s most beautiful and iconic waterfalls. Gullfoss is fed by the Hvítá river, and it drops in two stages, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring sight.
The history of Gullfoss dates back to the early 20th century when it was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas was an early advocate for harnessing the power of the waterfall to generate electricity, and he leased the waterfall to several foreign investors who sought to build a hydroelectric power plant. However, Tómas’s daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, was fiercely opposed to the plan and fought to protect the waterfall.
Sigríður Tómasdóttir became a national hero for her efforts to save Gullfoss. She even threatened to throw herself over the waterfall in protest, and she led a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of preserving Iceland’s natural beauty. In 1940, the Icelandic government finally intervened and purchased Gullfoss, ensuring its protection for future generations.
Today, Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, with visitors coming from all over the world to witness the stunning beauty of the waterfall. The site features several observation platforms and walking paths that allow visitors to get up close and personal with the waterfall.
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in harnessing the power of Gullfoss for electricity generation. However, these plans have been met with opposition from environmental groups and concerned citizens who fear that the development could damage the delicate ecosystem surrounding the waterfall.
Despite the challenges facing Gullfoss, it remains a symbol of Iceland’s natural beauty and its people’s commitment to preserving their country’s unique environment. Gullfoss is not only a beautiful waterfall but also a testament to the power of grassroots activism and the importance of protecting our natural resources for future generations.
There was also time for a quick stop to pet Icelandic horses!
Next, see my photos from the top of Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik’s Beautiful Church and Harpa Concert Hall