The third and final stop on the Golden Circle Tour, was Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO heritage site that is important for two reasons. Firstly, because it is the location of the Great Atlantic Rift, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are separating and secondly, for being the site the Vikings selected for their first parliament, or Althing.
To all effects and purposes this park is where America and Europe come together. The valley below is essentially new earth that is growing larger by roughly 2cm every day. Some people consider it a no man’s land, which is neither American nor European.
There are amazing views of the landscape from every part of the park we visited and good paths around the area.
The important location of the first general assembly held by the Vikings in AD 930, the Law Rock or Logberg, is marked now by only a flag.
The site of the assembly was carefully chosen because the natural acoustics of the area allowed whoever was speaking to be easily heard. It was reputedly the first parliamentary democracy in the world and was held almost annually until 1789, when there was an earthquake and the parliament moved to Reykjavik instead.
It’s a very impressive landscape, and I imagine even more so during the summer, and was highlighted by the excellent guide from Reykjavik Excursions who was informative throughout the walk around the Park and as we travelled by coach throughout the Golden Circle Tour. I would have loved to have spent even longer at the Park than we did – a good few hours – and it’s certainly one of the places I could see myself revisiting.
[Some info taken from the AA Guide to Iceland, 2009]