Life

A Visit to Thingvellir National Park – Witnessing Iceland’s Majestic Rift Valley and the Site of the World’s First Parliament

  Thingvellir National Park, also known as the “Parliament National Park”, was established in 1930 to protect the “Alting” parliament site. Later, the park was expanded to protect the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Its address is located on the outskirts of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, covering an area of ​​approximately 240 square kilometers. We arrived at “Iceland’s most beautiful national park” on a cloudy and drizzly day.
  Walking in Thingvellir National Park, I couldn’t help but marvel at the majestic scenery in front of me, the gurgling water, turquoise lakes, green and fragile moss, and the vast wasteland under the haze, exposed volcanic rocks and large cracks The valley landscape brings people a contradictory and wonderful experience.

  Tens of millions of years ago, crustal movement caused the North American plate and the Eurasian plate to gradually separate. Magma burst out from the cracks. The lava continued to accumulate and finally emerged from the sea, forming Iceland. The Thingvellir area is located on the Great Rift Valley that runs through the north and south of Iceland. The rift is the dividing line between the American Plate and the Eurasian Plate. Due to crustal movement, it is still separating on both sides at a rate of 2 centimeters per year. Therefore, even tourists who have been to Thingvellir will see a completely new scenery when they come again.
  The movement of the earth’s crust tore the earth apart, forming not only huge rift valleys, but also numerous criss-crossing cracks of different sizes. The cracks seemed unfathomable and strangely unsettling. In the low-lying areas of the rift valleys and fissures, glacial meltwater and surface water flowed in, forming a series of lakes and rivers.

  Thingvellir, the largest natural lake in Iceland, covers an area of ​​84 square kilometers. The water is crystal clear and the waves are as flat as a mirror, but the bottom of the lake is full of faults, rifts, volcanoes and hot springs. Due to the extremely high visibility of the lake, which can reach 90 meters to 120 meters, it has become an ideal adventure spot for many cave diving enthusiasts.

  I stood on the rock and looked far into the distance. In front of the dark stone wall, an Icelandic flag flutters in the wind, where the oldest democratic parliament in the world is located. In 930 AD, Iceland’s early immigrants established the world’s earliest democratically elected parliament, “Alting” here. Every summer during the off-season, all Icelandic citizens come here to participate in the “Alting”, a two-week meeting that includes formulating and passing new laws, pronouncing cases, resolving inter-regional disputes, and making decisions about the future of Iceland.
  However, this is not only a solemn “National Congress”, but also a joyful ceremony. During the parliament, farmers with their families, people from all parties participating in legal debates, businessmen, craftsmen, storytellers and practitioners came from all directions on horseback or sleigh.

  People brought dry food and daily household belongings, set up temporary tents here, cooked with the clear lake water, traded their excess items, and exchanged various information. From 1262 onwards, Iceland was ruled by Norway and Denmark. However, “Alting” continued to operate until 1798.

  The stunning Great Rift Valley and beautiful Thingvellir Lake have brought Icelanders inexhaustible treasures—hot springs and geothermal resources. As a symbol of the spirit of independence and democracy, the “Alting” meeting place and Thingvellir National Park are included in the World Heritage List, which is even more worthy of the pride of Icelanders.

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