Iceland's Thingvellir National Park
When I visited Thingvellir (spelled Þingvellir in Icelandic) National Park, it was clear that the place was a true natural wonder, both environmentally and geographically. Located near the fissure zone between the North American and Eurasian plates, the park provides both an educational experience and plenty of magnificent views. It’s also where much of Season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’ was filmed!
When you step out of your vehicle at Thingvellir, you’re on the North American plate, just a few feet from an impressive ridge where the space between the North American and Eurasian plates is quite visible (and widening, at about two centimeters per year). The breathtaking scenery visible from the Hakid View Point is one of my most prominent memories of my week-long stay in Iceland. The fog visible in the images below is traditional of an Icelandic summer.
After Hakid, my tour group opted for a short hike that spanned two continents, from the North American to the Eurasian plate. The path slopes down a steep hill into a space between two wedges of the North American plate.
The rocky cliffsides of the plate wedges were covered in beautiful green moss, as was much of the country. Where there was soil, gorgeous little flowers and vibrant green grass grew. The stark contrast between the side of the ridge and the vibrant greens and purples of the plant life below was startling and unusual to my eyes. This was a unique landscape, especially for me, someone used to living in a subtropical area.
Eventually, the North American plate wedge to the right broke off to reveal a vast flatland. On this flatland was a quaint little church building with a rich history. The church building pictured below was constructed in 1859, but there’s been a church at Thingvellir since the year 1000, shortly after Iceland’s adoption of Christianity.
Many crystal-clear rivulets flowed through the rocky flatlands at the edge of the Eurasian plate, and coins tossed down into the water by tourists glinted from many feet down. Like the rest of Iceland’s natural water, it was perfectly safe to drink.
The outstanding landscape at Thingvellir was well worth the short drive from Reykjavik, and I highly recommend visiting, as the park provides a truly enlightening and memorable experience.