Thursday, June 12, 2008

Southwest Iceland: Geysir → Þingvellir → Blue Lagoon 22 May

22nd May 2008
Geysir → Þingvellir → Blue Lagoon

Via: Route 35 - Route 37 - Route 365 - Route 361 - Route 36 - Route 1

We leave Hotel Geysir at 9am in a sunny and warm weather of 8°C. We plan to take a detour to Þingvellir before heading off to our destination, The Blue Lagoon.

Vistas of the Drive

Route 36

Beautiful lake at Hallvik

Þingvellir - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Þingvellir is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and the site of a rift valley and home to Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Parliament or Alþingi was established here in 930 and remained until 1789. The Þingvellir National Park was founded in 1930 to protect the remains of the parliament site and was later expanded to protect natural phenomena in the surrounding area. It is the first national park in Iceland and is decreed "a protected national shrine for all Icelanders, the perpetual property of the Icelandic nation under the preservation of parliament, never to be sold or mortgaged."

Hótel Valhöll

Þingvallakirkja, one of the first church build in Iceland. and it is consecrated by the Norwegian bishop in the 11th century. The wood and the bell that people use to build the church came from Norway in 1015.

Öxará River

Þingvallakirkja (left) and Þingvallabær (right), which used to be a farmhouse but now used as a summer home by the Icelandic Prime Minister.

Surroundings of Þingvellir Plain

The endless cliff wall of Almannagjá fissure

The Alþing
It is one of the oldest parliamentary institutions in the world. Its establishment, as an annual outdoor assembly held on the plains of Þingvellir from about the year 930 AD, laid the foundation for an independent national existence in Iceland. Now the parliament sits at the capital instead.

The site that marked by the flagpole is the rock podium, Lögberg (Law Rock) on which the lögsögumaður (lawspeaker) took his seat as the presiding official of the assembly. He recited the law to the assembled parliament each year.

Strange rock formation on the cliff of Almannagjá fissure

Alternative site believed to be the rock podium, Lögberg (Law Rock), on the cliff of Almannagjá fissure

Þingvellir sits on the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates, which are moving apart at a rate of 2cm a year. It can be described as an area of sea-floor spreading, displaying the close association of crustal rifting and volcanism. It is one of the 2 sites on Earth where the effects of two major plates drifting apart can be observed, clearly shown in the cracks or faults which traverse the region.

Almannagjá Fissure
It is 7.7km long, with the greatest width of 64m. It marks the eastern boundary of the North American plate.

Öxará RIver, which cuts through the fissure

Within the fissure

Narrower part of the fissure

On the cliff of Almannagjá Fissure

Þingvellir Plain

Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland

The fissure within, The Alþing (centre) and The Þingvellir Plain

One of the smaller fissures that are at the entrance of the Þingvellir National Park.

Fissure wall, made up of lava rocks, covered by moss

The waterfall is part of the Öxará RIver system, where water will flow down to the Þingvellir Plain and eventually ended up at Þingvallavatn lake. We drive further up along Route 36 just to see this waterfall.

The ragged part of Almannagjá Fissure

One of the inaccessible 'split road' of the fissure


Öxará RIver, which flows to the Þingvellir Plain

Closeup on the lava rock

On the way up and out

The path in the fissure where we come from, view from the top of the fissure. The whitish spot, near the top of the picture is the water mist created by the waterfall.

The overall view of Þingvellir Plain, Öxará RIver, Þingvallavatn lake and the hidden Öxarárfoss

We are back on the road again. The final leg of this trip is The Blue Lagoon at the Reykjanes Peninsula, which we expect to arrive by late afternoon.

Back to Route 36

Nice bus stop

Route 1

Reykjavik is just 15km away

Click to see next - Southwest Iceland: Blue Lagoon 23 - 24 May


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