Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) , an atlantic creek and a viking parliament

Thingvellir, Iceland, is the historic site of the oldest parliament in the world, one of the most spectacular parks in Iceland and a huge surface creek between tectonic plates.

Here the Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes above water: Thingvellir is an enormous geologic rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

One of the most beautiful places in Iceland, Thingvellir National Park is also central to the nation's history: it was home to the first parliament in the world. Icelandic Vikings began meeting here annually in the 10th century, gathering around a giant rock formation to create new laws and amend previous ones.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a divergent boundary, so as the two plates are slowly moving apart Iceland will sometime in the future break into two seperate land masses with the Atlantic Ocean between!

These two continents are drifting apart, due to the tectonic plates, at the speed of 2 m per century, so the land here is constantly sinking due to the land-masses splitting apart, and thus a huge graben, or rift valley, is forming.

The Alþingi or Althing (viking parliament) was founded here around 930 AD, and assembled each summer. Later it functioned as a court of law until 1798. Many crucial events in Iceland's history took place here, such as the adoption of Christianity around 1000 AD, and the foundation of the modern Icelandic Republic in 1944.

19th century rendering of the Law Rock in Þingvellir.

Public addresses on matters of importance were delivered at the Law. The Lögrétta, the legislative section of the assembly, was its most powerful institution.

Since 1930 Þingvellir has been a National Park, and in 2004 ist was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Þingvellir National Park

The property includes the Þingvellir National Park and the remains of the Althing itself: fragments of around 50 booths built from turf and stone, remains from the 10th century thought to be buried underground. Also
Lake Þingvallavatn, with a rich geological history and ecossistem, and the Öxarárfoss (waterfall of the Öxarár river) are protected attractions of the Park.

Old church where the Öxarár river joins the Þingvallavatn lake

Öxarárfoss waterfall


Anonymous said...

This is awesome and very cool. I wonder what elaborate myths the ancients told within the vally

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

Thanks for your comment.

Maybe you can hear them, sometimes, whispered through the valley, in the wind...

Viking myths are relatively well known, though, in the famous nordic sagas.