In no time at all, we will be approaching the first stop of the tour, the stunning sight of Thingvellir National Park. This is where the enormous gap between Eurasia and America’s continental plates can clearly be seen, as they slowly part from each other along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This geological movement triggered the gigantic volcanic eruptions which gave birth to this country around 20 million years ago, and eruptions and earthquakes still continue to this day all over Iceland. But don’t worry – there hasn’t been an eruption here for two thousand years!
The beautiful lake of Thingvallavatn spreads as far as the eye can see, and here you will have the rare opportunity to stand with one foot on each continent at the same time too.
Thingvellir is a national shrine for Icelanders, as it used to be where the Althingi, the national Parliament sat from 930AD right up until the 18th century. Laws were passed here at the “Law Rock”, disputes were settled, and festivals were celebrated. Iceland declared her independence from Denmark here in 1944, and Thingvellir was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.
Next, we will pass through the little village of Laugarvatn, which sits next to a gorgeous lake of the same name in a geothermally active area. The locals even use the hot steam vapor for baking rye bread in the ground here!
Geologically enthralling, Thingvellir is also significant in the cultural and historical life of Iceland, as it was the site of the oldest surviving Parliament in the world, established by the Vikings in 930AD. Laws were passed, disputes were settled, festivals were held, and the Icelandic nation was ruled from here for nearly a thousand years. Iceland declared its independence from Denmark here in 1944. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its rich cultural history and the stunning natural environment that lies all around.