Iceland’s oldest national park, Þingvellir is about a forty minute drive west of the country’s capital, Reykjavík. It is a protected area of great historical significance. It was home to the Althing Parliament – an open-air assembly representing all of Iceland - founded in 930 AD and continued to convene until 1798. The park has a remarkable natural landscape with the magnificent mid-Atlantic Almannagja rift running through its center. It is also home to an 84 sq km (52 sq mile) lake called Lake Þingvallavatn.
Þingvellir National Park is a popular place with tourists, and is one of the three primary must-see attractions within the Golden Circle. It is a great place for hiking with several trails through the lava fields. Visitors can learn a great deal about the history of Þingvellir (pronounced as Thingvellir) at the visitor center on the site. As well as the hiking trails, there is a camping area, and scuba diving is a popular activity at Silfra Lake and Davíðsgjá – two submerged rifts in Þingvellir National Park. As well as the wonderful surroundings, it is the excellent visibility in the cold, clear ground water that makes this place a favorite with divers. The regular and constant influx of groundwater into Þingvellir, as well as the hugely varied habitat, creates the right conditions for fish and other life forms to thrive in the lake. Consequently, the char and brown trout here are some of the largest in the world, making it a sought-after place for fishing enthusiasts.
Many of Iceland’s key historical events have taken place at Þingvellir and it became the cultural center of Iceland. As a result of legislation in 1928, Þingvellir National Park came into being to protect what was left of the ancient parliament site. In times past, people from all over the country would come here for the duration of the assembly. Nowadays, they still come – to enjoy this natural gem of nature and explore its history.