Thingvellir Area – Scenic, Historical and Geological
Thingvellir area or Þingvellir is recognized for its abnormal tectonic and volcanic setting in a rift valley. The cracks traversing the region depict the drift between North American and Eurasian Plates. Þingvellir is located on the northern shore of Lake Þingvallavatn. The river Öxará crosses the national park, thereby forming a waterfall at the Almannagjá, known as Öxarárfoss.
Þingvellir- a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Þingvellir is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on cultural criteria. It has a chance to qualify based on geological criteria in the near future. Due to its natural surroundings, Þingvellir has been an inspiration to many Icelandic painters such as Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval and Ásgrímur Jónsson. These paintings are displayed in The National Gallery of Iceland, along with over 150 other paintings, that have Þingvellir as the subject.
Another fact is that Icelanders have declared independence from Denmark in Þingvellir. Iceland had been given home rule in the year 1908, following it’s independence in the year 1944. The declaration of independence of Iceland was carried out at Þingvellir. Þingvellir had also been the parliament site during the Viking Age commonwealth. Þingvellir is likewise the place in which a standardized body of law to govern the new society was formed. Therefore, Þingvellir holds a significant role in the history of Iceland.
Geography of Thingvellir area
Tourists visit the National Park to take pleasure in its artistic beauty. The two most popular attractions in the park are the live North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Visitors get to stroll along with the tectonic plate and obtain knowledge regarding the formation of the area.
Þingvellir is one of the popular attractions in Iceland, in huge part because of the fact that it is a haven for the glacial spring. Silfra happens to have a visibility of 328 feet (100 meters) along with a temperature above that of freezing point. This is the reason why the tour participants are provided with neoprene hoodies and gloves along with a drysuit. Silfra fissure is undoubtedly one of the top ten must-visit sites in the world, particularly for scuba divers and snorkellers.
Thingvellir Area Today
As per the record between February 2015 and February 2016, approximately 700,000 individuals visited Þingvellir National Park. It is one amongst the most visited locations in the entire Iceland. It is just a 45-minute drive from Reykjavík, and also the initial stop on the Golden Circle.
What to see in the Thingvellir area?
Nowadays, individuals travel to Þingvellir to go beyond its geology and history of formations. They arrive looking for opportunities in diving and snorkeling. The water in the ravines is perfectly clean and crystal clear, thereby attracting passionate individuals to perform diving and snorkeling. However, only one of these ravines is open for snorkeling and diving at Silfra Fissure.
The water’s visibility within crosses a hundred meters, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in a fantasy of magical blue light. They also have the opportunity to witness the great geology under the surface. However, in order to scuba dive in this place, one must have at least ten logged dives in a drysuit or a drysuit certification. But snorkeling has fewer requirements when compared to scuba diving. Another characteristic of Þingvellir that attracts guests is the fact that it has been used as a shooting location in HBO’s Game of Thrones series.
Animal life in the Thingvellir area
The animal life at Þingvellir attracts wildlife enthusiasts as well as birdwatchers. Birdwatchers get to observe various species of duck, golden plovers, and usual snipes. Wildlife enthusiasts can have the chance to see Mink and Arctic Foxes, as they are special at Þingvellir.
Even though visiting Þingvellir / Thingvellir area provides an incredible experience to visitors, the number of guests arriving through the park seems to affect nature. After tourism had boomed, infrastructure found it extremely challenging to keep up. However, the Thingvellir area is very charming and a place not to be missed when visiting Iceland.