Pingvellir National Park


There are more photos on Flickr and still some others in Instagram (search for dbender54).


We drove thru and past the park the day we visited Geysir, so today, we drove back out to explore the park itself. No dirt roads or one lane bridges encountered today!

The Pingvellir park has a 33 sq mi lake Pingvallavatan, and behind us, volcanoes. The park has some smaller waterfalls that drain into the nearby ocean. We drove up to a parking area  across from a much higher wall of volcanic rock. We walked down and past a small waterfall,  through the large ravine/rift below, where the annual Alpingi was held for hundreds of years. The Alpingi has evolved into today’s Icelandic Parliament.

The rift is probably 80′ across, so it’s not so hard to imagine the chieftains standing in top of the high wall of the ravine speaking out the laws to the 60,000 people (entire population of Iceland at the time) standing below, settling disputes, and handing out justice.

Here’s the timeline for the Alping and changes in Iceland’s laws.

  • 930 Alpingi started
  • 1000 Christianity
  • 1117-1118 Codification of laws
  • 1262-1265 The old covenant
  • 1380 Unification of Denmark and Norway
  • 1500 Reformation – Beheading of Bishop Jon Season
  • 1564 Great Edict
  • 1662 Danish Monarchy
  • 1600-1750 Executions at Pingvellir
  • 1798 Last session of Alpingi at Pingvellir
Walkway through the ravine

They actually allowed autos to drive through this ravine until 1967, after which it became too dangerous and a walkway was built. 

Pingvellir Park. The entrance to the rift where the Alpingi was held
Looking from visitors’ center out to sea

Pingvellir National Park- river flowing out to ocean

Today is our last day in Iceland. We’ve really enjoyed our first trip here and hope to return. It’s not hard to look at the remains of so many volcanoes and believe that when they were active millions of years ago (or maybe more recently than that), what a hell on earth scene this must have been with the clouds of ash and smoke, lava flows,sulphuric gas, earthquakes.

This picture from Wikipedia shows you where Pingvellir (Thingvellir in English) is located relative to the tectonic plates that cause so much of the volcanic activity in Iceland.

The largest volcanic eruption in modern times occurred in 1783 with the eruption in Lakagígar, thought to have erupted the largest quantity of lava from a single eruption in historic times. The eruption killed roughly one quarter of the population directly or indirectly. This plate tectonics activity (thanks Dad 😉) and the accompanying volcanic activity are what formed and continues to form Iceland. It is estimated that “1/3 of the magma that has erupted on the earth for the last 10,000 years came up in Iceland .”

Iceland is an country that amazes, and we explored a small portion of it.

Early flight tomorrow.

Where to next?

Wait for the next update!

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