Officially, settlement began in Iceland in AD 874 when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson came to settle permanently on the island. Throughout the next century, other Norwegians, as well as Celts, followed in his footsteps. District assemblies were formed, and very early on, the settler realized they would need a general assembly to establish laws and settle disputes. In 930, the Icelandic Parliament, Alþingi, was founded at Þingvellir – and remained there until 1798. Alþingi now resides in Reykjavík. In 1930 Þingvellir National Park was organized, marking Alþingi's 1000th anniversary. Later on, it was expanded to protect the area's nature and environment, and in 2004 Þingvellir became a World Heritage Site.
A reason why Þingvellir is such a sacred place for Icelanders
Þingvellir is extremely precious to all Icelanders. It is the single most important place in the history of Iceland. Across the centuries, the area is at the center of every story and every major decision. It was at the center of everybody's fate. The Alþingi assembly wasn't just Iceland's supreme legislative authority but also the judicial authority until 1271. It was there you would learn whether you would lose a finger, hand, or an arm; it was there you were told whether you would hang, burn or drown – usually for misdemeanors or relatively small crimes. But, mind you, according to the Sagas, everybody was very well dressed in colorful apparel made of silk and such when attending Alþingi.
ÞIngvellir is an important historical place and has also appeared in popular culture
Þingvellir is a site that has more than historical importance but also cultural and geological. It lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The rift is clearly visible in the cracks traversing the region. The largest rift, Almannagjá, is a veritable canyon. As a result, earthquakes are quite common in the area. The Þingvallavatn Lake is Iceland's largest natural lake and enhances the combined beauty of Þingvellir. The landscape at Þingvellir is also stunning, with colorful lava and beautiful mountains in the background. It is a place many visitors like to see and view. Like many places in Iceland, part of Þingvellir, Almannagjá, appears in Game of Thrones as the road to the Eyrie leading to the Bloody Gate.
Access to Þingvellir and Almannagjá
From Reykjavík, you drive to Mosfellsbær village on the Ring Road Nr. 1. When passed Mosfellsbær, you turn east on Þingvallavegur Nr. 36 all the way to one of two to three parking lots. Access to Þingvellir, Almannagjá, Öxarárfoss, Drekkingarhylur, and some of the magnificent landscapes is quite simple but requires a bit of a walk.