Þingvellir, also known as Thingvellir National Park or “assembly of plains” is located in southwestern region of Iceland where the old assembly of Icelanders known as Alpingi congregated to perform their leadership duties.
Thingvellir National Park includes the Law Rock and The Law Council. The dividing lines are at Kastalar with two lava hills on the northern part of Nedri-Vellir, Lake Þingvallavatn (Thingvallavatn) towards the south, the higher wall of Almannagjá fault in the west, and Flosagja rift in the east.
Alpingi, also known as general assembly was an independent legislature with the mandate to moderate the common affairs of the state, make laws and arbitrate disputes.
At Logretta, the most influential local bishops, chieftains, and their followers gathered to attend judicial and legislative issues.
The president of Lögrétta (Lawspeaker) stood on a tall cliff (Law Rock) in Almannagjá and recited the laws from memory. His words were afterward recited by other speakers standing on farther cliffs for it to reach the entire followers of the state.
It is at this place where religious appointments were done, marriages were planned, outlaws banished, matters of importance decided, and the contracts were initiated and negotiated.
After the adoption of Christianity, Thingvellir Church was built, but a great storm later destroyed it in 1118. The present church was built in 1859, and there are three bells in the belfry namely; the ancient bell, bell from 1968, and the bell for independence celebrations in 1944. The warden of Thingvellir is also the pastor of the church.
To the east of the church, there is a national cemetery where the famous poets Jonas Hallgrimsson and Einar Benediktsson are buried.
Thingvellir National Park is crowned with an amazing, beautiful scenery and is considered Iceland’s national shrine. From the time when Icelandic parliament met in 930, Þingvellir is where an agreement to adopt Christianity was made in the year 1000, and the modern Iceland Republic was founded in 1944.
Thingvellir National Park was established in 1930 to be the first national park in Iceland. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004.
Thingvellir sits on an area of 237sq.km. On the surface of Thingvellir rift valley, tectonic plates boundaries that separate North American and Eurasian plates are seen clearly. Almannagjá at Thingvellir National Park is one of the best examples of plate tectonics.
Thingvallavatn – it’s the largest freshwater lake in Iceland
Drekkingarhylur (Drowning Pool) – it’s where women guilty of adultery and other offenses were drowned, hanged or beheaded.
Axe River – the name was given when the Viking, Ketilbjorn the Old, lost his axe in the river while trying to break the ice to get water.
Logberg (Law Rock) – it’s now invisible as it has sunk into the earth due to earthquakes.
Oxararholmi – used as a dueling place
Thingvallabaer – Thingvellir warden and the prime minister residence
Valholl – the booth owned by Snorri Sturluson at Thingvellir
Oxarafoss – small beautiful waterfall
Nearby Silfra and Davíðsgjá fissures – popular for snorkelling and diving due to exceptional water clarity
Among all the amazing natural icons in Iceland, Thingvellir National Park is the most outstanding one. Its heritage is unmatched with any other as it offers inspiration to many scholars and up to date, Thingvellir remains a sacred place.