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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Almannagjá


Almannagjá fissure at Þingvellir National Park
Almannagjá fissure at Þingvellir National Park

Few places have a higher place in the hearts and minds of Icelanders than Almannagjá at Þingvellir in the South Region of Iceland. It is a place everyone should visit when traveling in Iceland. It is not only a geological wonder and place of historical importance but also a sacred place. It is the place where our first settlers choose for their national assembly eleven hundred years ago to make laws and settle disputes. It is where a final decision was made to revert to Christianity and abolish paganism. It is the place where Icelanders celebrate their sovereignty and independence. It is probably one of the most important parts of Iceland.


Southern Region on the Map Of Iceland
Southern Region on the Map Of Iceland

Geologically a part of the North Atlantic Rift System

Almannagjá is at the heart of Iceland history
Almannagjá is at the heart of Iceland history

Geologically Almannagjá is a part of the North Atlantic rift system that stretches to the south pole in the Atlantic ocean. The length of the Almannagjá gorge is eight kilometers, and one of the interesting places where you can see tectonic plates drift apart. But you would, unfortunately, have to stay there for a few hundred years to see the movement. The cliffs that tower over the walking path tell a long, complex, and fascinating geological story.


A beautiful place with a dark history

Drekkingarhylur in the river Öxará in Almannagjá is a sad part of our history
Drekkingarhylur in the river Öxará in Almannagjá is a sad part of our history

Almannagjá also has a darker history. In the 16th and 17th centurie, the beautiful calm, deep place by the bridge over the river Öxará was part of the Icelandic judicial system. Here women who were mainly convicted of adultery were drowned, and the deep pool carries the name Drowning Deep Pool, Drekkingarhylur. Men were hanged, and women drowned by putting them in a sack and holding them under the water with a stick until they stopped moving. So when you walk past that part, you should bow your head in respect to honor their memory, as most of them were not criminals but innocent victims of rape, incest, violence, and ignorance. Fortunately, only eighteen women were drowned here, which is eighteen too many.


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