Ancient Iceland On Display at Pingvellir National Park

Ancient Iceland On Display at Pingvellir National Park

We began at Þingvellir National Park, the seat of the Alþing.

At Þingvellir – literally "Parliament Plains" – the Alþing general assembly was established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. Þingvellir was conveniently located for access from all regions of the country by old overland routes.

During the Alþing session each summer, the members stayed in "booths" or temporary shelters. Overgrown foundations of such shelters from the later centuries are visible on the parliament site. All major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir.

Þingvellir is the only place on earth which tectonic plates can be seen above ground. The large abyss-like cracks in the earth that appear to literally split this area in half are actually the results of the separation of the the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

There is a tradition here in Þingvellir to throw money into Peningagjá (peningar = money in Icelandic) and make a wish. The water is crystal clear making it a beautiful sight watching your coin sink to the bottom. The myriad of coins in the water make it appear to sparkle under the Icelandic sun.

Stroll around the loop from the visitor center, across the river, and on to the Pingvallakirkja Church. Pingvallakirkja is one of the first churches built in Iceland and it was consecrated by the Norwegian bishop Bjarnhardur. The wood and the bell that the people used to build the church came from Norway in 1015.

When the original church collapsed in 1118, the people used the private church of Pingvallabaer Farm. The church that you see today was built in 1859 and has three bells: one of 1118, one of 1698 and one of 1944 when the Republic of Iceland was born.


Travel tip shared by jdombinitaly