Iceland’s Golden Circle: Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir in English which literally means “Parliament Plains”) in the Golden Circle region of Iceland is a UNESCO World Heritage site where the Alþing (Althing) open-air assembly,  like a Viking parliament representing the whole of Iceland (they would meet for 2 weeks each year and set the laws of the land and settle disputes in applicable courts) was established in 930 and remained in operation until 1798 (when a more modern form of parliament was established in Reykjavik). Ruins of the Alþing (Althing) can be found within the park but ultimately the scenery steals the show (so typical of Iceland).

Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Rocky and snowy that’s Þingvellir National Park in Winter
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
This body of water remained unfrozen but that was rare
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Stunning vistas

Major events that helped shape the history of Iceland occurred in this location making it very sacred to Icelanders. Something very interesting happened at the Alþing in the year 1000. Pagan and Christians were divided and neither groups would accept the laws put in place by the other, so how did they resolve this? It was decided Icelanders should take up Christianity but those who wanted to remain pagan could do so in secret! It seemed to work and Christianity was eventually adopted as the main religion and Iceland has remained a peaceful place (today they have no military, just a Coast Guard and although police are there it is a generally law-abiding society).  Shortly after this decision the King of Norway (who ruled Iceland at the time) sent wood and a church bell to build a church at Þingvellir. Although not the same church, there is still one there to this day (this one was constructed the 1850’s on the site of the 11th century church).

church Þingvellir National Park Iceland
The 1850’s church
church Þingvellir National Park Iceland
The church is built on the site of the original 11th century church
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Nice spot for a chilly stroll
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
The land of ice and snow
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Iceland the magnificent

The natural stone walls of Þingvellir made a perfect backdrop for the Alþing and you can imagine the heated debate and discussions that were held here to govern Iceland. Those stones remain much today as they did over a 1000 years ago and beyond as a natural reminder of this parks historic past.

Stone Walls Þingvellir National Park Iceland
The natural stone walls of Þingvellir National Park
Alþing Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Alþing (Image from a sign at the national park)
stone wall Þingvellir National Park Iceland
The great wall
Stone Walls Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Reminiscent of Game of Thrones
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Follow the crowd along a path of Icelandic history
Stone Walls Þingvellir National Park Iceland
A walk along the wall
Stone Walls Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Great scenery
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
The views go on and on
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Soak it in before the sun is gone
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Looking across the church

This was the finale for my tour of the Golden Circle of Iceland and as the sun set on the day, it was very cold and my face was pretty much frozen and my lips too numb to speak! Despite this minor calamity, it was a perfect way to finish a great trip.

Sunset Þingvellir National Park Iceland
The sun sets on Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Brrrr
sunset Þingvellir National Park Iceland
Þingvellir is a beautiful place
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2 Comments Add yours

    1. Deano says:

      It was a beautiful place. I would like to go back there someday with more daylight and explore a little more but the sunset certainly provided a unique moment

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