Thingvellir in Iceland - One of the Best World Heritage Sites

By: Bjorn Olav Jonsson

Thingvellir is situated around 50 kilometers in the west of Icelandic capital Reykjavik. It is one of the very few places in the world we can see the mid-Atlantic ridge rising above the water. It is a geologic rise between the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America. This rift between the tectonic plates has made this place a spectacular and worth seeing. Its important sceneries includes Iceland's biggest lake and dramatic rock faces. It has the honor to be the oldest and the most prominent historic site of Iceland. It is also one of the Iceland's most beautiful sites and most visited also as it is the part of the very famous golden circle tour of Iceland.

As we know that Iceland bears the oldest existing parliament in the world, the thing to be known now is that this parliament held its first meeting here in Thingvellir way back in 930 AD. Since then, this parliament meeting was arranged here to discuss issues, set laws and enact them. It was here only that the law to make Christianity as the official religion of Iceland was passed in 1000 A.D. since that time, Thingvellir has stayed as the most important destination of the country. In 1974, at the time of 1100th celebration of first settlement, more than 60,000 people came to Thingvellir to be a part of it. The best thing about Thingvellir is that it has been nominated by UNESCO as a preserved world heritage site.

The exact place of founding of parliament is just around Lake Thingvallavatn. It is the biggest fresh water natural lake with an area of 83.7 square kilometers. Its deepest point is as deep as 114 meters and lowest point is 13 meters. River sog is the only river that is generated from this lake. This river is famous for its crystal clear blue water and rich population of salmon fishes. Three hydro-power plants use the water of this river to draw out electricity from it. This Lake Thingvallavatn is full of four species of char and brown trout hence, angling is very popular here. Fishes caught from this lake are processed and sent to all over Europe and preferred as the most liked food.

In Thingvellir, there are many small spots which are famous either by stories connected with them or for its geographical appearance. Drekkingarhylur or the drowning pool is famous because it is said that this is the place where girls who became unmarried mothers were drowned to death. This place is situated in the river Oxara and this river is found in a big lava gorge which combines to make a fabulous site to visit.

Nearby situated is the Peningagja or the money chasm. It is a very deep gap containing crystal clear water from a spring. It got its name because when a coin is thrown in it, they give amazing shine while going towards the surface. Another very famous thing is that it is said that if you can follow the coin till it reaches the surface; your wish will come true. Scuba diving and snorkeling is also getting very popular here as adventurous sports.

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