During your escape to Iceland, a must-do excursion is that of Iceland’s Golden Circle. It covers three key sights including Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area and today’s focus, Thingvellir National Park.
Thingvellir, also sometimes spelt Þingvellir in its Icelandic form, is a breathtaking geological sight where the history of the nation began. A man named Ingólfur Arnarson arrived on the island in the year 874 AD becoming the first permanent Norse settler of Iceland. Many other communities shortly followed, driven away from a newly united Norway under King Harald Fairhair. The new arrivals shared an ancestral home, religion and language, but otherwise had their own leaders and customs so violence between groups became commonplace. In turn, district assemblies began to form with the majority of power concentrated around Reykjavik led by the descendants of Ingólfur.
To create peace between the different clans located around Iceland, a man named Grímur Geitskör organised a gathering between them in a suitable location. This location was Thingvellir. In 930 AD, over thirty ruling chiefs met for the first time to discuss law on the island and to create a commonwealth. Thingvellir was named to remember the occasion, translating directly to ‘the fields of parliament’. For many years after, most of the major turns in Iceland’s history was decided here such as the abandonment of Asatru, the Old Norse pagan belief system, in lieu of Christianity in 1000 AD. Nearly a millennium later, in 1944 AD, it is where Icelanders declared their independence from Denmark and confirmed their first President.
As well as being a sight of political importance, Thingvellir National Park is also renowned for its geological significance. As you may already know, Iceland is divided by the Mid-Atlantic Rift with some parts like the Westfjords and Reyjavík on the North American tectonic plate. Others, like Vatnajökull glacier and the East Fjords, are on the Eurasian plate. Iceland is the only country in the world where this rift is viewable above sea level and it is at Thingvellir where you can see both plates clearly side by side.
Another must-see sight at Thingvellir National Park is Silfra Lake. This breathtaking, bright blue lake holds some of the most clearest water in the world with visibility exceeding 100 metres. Without stepping below the water, you can witness the incredible rock formations beneath the surface. With our Silfra Lake Snorkelling tour, you can explore this incredible lagoon for yourself. You’ll be supplied with special dry suits, since the water is around 2 degrees Celsius all year round. You can also walk around the park and admire the vast wildlife including Arctic Foxes and Mink as well as birds like golden plovers.
If you’d like to explore Thingvellir National Park for yourself, check out our pre-built Golden Circle package which includes return flights, hotel and the Golden Circle tour as standard. You can also get in touch with the team by emailing us at email@example.com.