Thingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Thingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries.Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagja, which marks the eastern boundary of the north American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, and Gjabakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Silfra Fissure, situated in Þingvellir National Park in southwest Iceland, is one of the country's most visited and cherished natural wonders.
Roughly an hour’s drive from Reykjavik city centre, Silfra is a highly popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers, with the fissure itself often ranking amongst the top ten dive sites internationally. The water is 2-4 degrees celsius all year round and offers visitors the opportunity to touch both the American and Eurasian tectonic plates simultaneously, an extremely rare feeling in itself.
Silfra is just one of thousands of fissures made up as part of a largely unmapped cave network underneath Thingvellir. The reasons for Silfra’s adulation particularly are, upon seeing it, self-explanatory. Firstly, there is the incredible water clarity. Visibility will often stretch beyond 100m, meaning the entire fissure, canyon walls and all, is in full and perfect view.
The incredible colour spectrums that this creates defies imagination. The water is so clear, for instance, that it refracts light in the same manner as a diamond, meaning, on bright days, that Silfra’s bottom is illuminated with rainbow patterns.
Þingvellir makes up part of the Mid-Atlantic rift valley, an area of fairly young magma fields (geologically speaking) that, continentally, does not exist. Water trickles down from the mighty Langjökull glacier, around 60km from Silfra, entering the cave network and taking up to a century to reach the fissure. This fascinating process began over 12,000 years ago.
Silfra also has a gentle current. This flow means that any sediment or floating particles kicked up by will quickly be pulled away, ensuring excellent visibility within minutes.
Thingvallavatn is Iceland's largest natural lake, with a surface of 84 km² and a deep of 114 meters, located in the beautiful Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The lake has two islands and their volcanic origins are clearly visible. There is good fishing to be made in the lake, as it has four kinds of char and the fantastic ice age trout, raching up to 30 pounds.
The national parliament Althingi was founded in Thingvellir in 930. Thingvellir is located where Eurasian and North American Plates meet, notable witnesses being Almannagja canyon and the Silfra fissure, which lies close to the lake.
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