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Þingvellir National Park in Iceland

Þingvellir National Park in Iceland is a fascinating place, whether you are interested in nature, geology, history or film. The views are breathtaking and the landscape very special, as you are right at the point where the major continental plates meet. The Alltinget, the Icelandic parliament, also has its 1000-year-old roots here. In addition, this is a location where scenes from both Game of Thrones and The Lionheart Brothers were filmed.

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Golden circle part 3

The Golden Circle in Iceland consists of three main destinations, and we've already written about two of them: the Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir and Strokkur geysers in Haukadalur. I had originally intended to write about everything in one post, but it just wasn't possible. We simply have soooo many photos from this day! Here is part three of the Golden Circle: Þingvellir National Park.

islands flagga

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park can also be written as Thingvellir National Park, and in Swedish you sometimes see the "translation" Tingvalla. This place is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, and is actually known for two completely different things. Firstly, it is a very interesting geological site, where the two continental plates meet in a rather dramatic way. Secondly, it's the place where for several hundred years Iceland held its parliament, the Alltinget.

Þingvalla Church at Lake Þingvalla

The site is located next to Iceland's largest lake, Þingvallavatn. There is also a cute little church here, which is open from May to September.

Tingvalla Island
Thingvallasjön

The continental plates of Þingvellir

Þingvellir National Park is the place where the North American and Eurasian continental plates meet. Running across the national park is a long continental rift called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The rift is clearly visible as a large gorge and a series of smaller faults, each 400 metres wide.

It is quite dramatic to imagine how the huge plates move in relation to each other, thus shaping the fractured landscape. In fact, the crack in Þingvellir is expanding by 2-5 centimetres per year.

Tingvalla Island

Alltinget - Iceland's parliament

The Icelanders were originally Norwegians who fled from the Norwegian King Harald Fairhair. As they began to populate Iceland, they needed some form of government, and in 930 they first called a parliamentary assembly, which they called the Alltinget. The Alltinget evolved into Iceland's legislative and judicial assembly, meeting once a year in Þingvellir.

Tingvalla

People travelled from all over the country to take part in the most important event of the year. Given that people were scattered and travelling by horse, it must have taken some time... Once they arrived, there were not only meetings and judgements, but also markets, trade, music and parties. It was like a big festival in the valley, and according to our guide, 6000 people could gather here at that time. Fascinating to think about, isn't it?

Alltinget

Þingvellir in Game of Thrones

Þingvellir National Park has been used as a filming location for some scenes in the hugely popular TV series Game of Thrones. The narrow road leading to the Eyrie was filmed here, which can be seen when Sansa Stark arrives in the company of Littlefinger, as well as when Catelyn Stark arrives in season 1 of the TV series.

Thingvellir nationalpark
Thingvellir i Game of Thrones

Þingvellir In The Lionheart Brothers

Much of the film The Lionheart Brothers was also filmed in Þingvellir National Park. In particular, the national park has come to symbolise the desolate landscape of Karmanjaka, home to the evil ruler Tengil.

Nationalparken Thingvellir
Thingvellir Bröderna Lejonhjärta

Laxness horse farm

On the way back to Reykjavik we visited Laxness horse farm, located in Mosfellsbæ, 26 kilometres from Þingvellir National Park and 22 kilometres from Reykjavik. There are a total of 116 Icelandic horses here, and although there are no signs, the owners know the names of each of them.

WIFI.se

Just remember not to call them ponies! Although Icelandic horses have a relatively low wither height, they are strong and are considered horses. And the Icelanders may not like it if you call them ponies ...

islandshästar

The farm organises horse riding tours in the beautiful surroundings, as well as combined tours with other activities, such as the Golden Circle or whale watching. This time it was only a short visit for us, as other things were on our schedule. We have riding an Icelandic horse in Iceland before, and would love to do it again. A great way to experience nature!

Islandshästar Island
Peter Island
Peter at the Laxness horse farm, photo: Veera Bianca
All our top tips about Iceland. Click on the image!

Facts about Þingvellir National Park

  • Find here: Þingvellir National Park is 48 kilometres from Reykjavik. You can get here by rental car or by tourist bus. There are regular roads all the way, and you don't need four-wheel drive. You can travel to Iceland by, for example Icelandair.
  • Opening hours: The national park is part of nature and does not close. The visitor centre is open from 09:00-18:00.
  • Prices: There is no cost to visit the national park, but there may be a parking charge. There is an exhibition in the visitor centre and the fee for this is 1000 Icelandic krona (approx. 85 SEK) for adults (2019). Children under 18 enter free of charge.
  • Accessibility: The walk around the park is on wooden walkways.
  • Read more: You can find more information at national park website.

This trip was a press trip, organised by Icelandair and the Food and Fun Reykjavik festival. All texts, photos (unless otherwise stated) and opinions are, as usual, our own.

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