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  • Writer's pictureLinda Schlencker

The world's oldest parliament: Þingvellir

Day 3 of our Iceland Self Drive Adventure: Reykjavik to Þingvellir and Hvolsvöllur

Today the adventure really began. It was time to pick up our Arctic Modified Hilux 4x4s with 38 inch wheels and head out of the city. How good to these trucks look? We would get used to people stopping taking photos of Iceland's sights to photograph our convoy when we rolled past.

Andrew get's the keys - what could go wrong?

Almost immediately our convoy was of the tar roads and onto the dirt.


Þingvellir (Thingvellir), Situated on the northern shore of lake Þingvallavatn, is the National Park where the Althing, an open-air assembly representing the whole of Iceland, was established in 930 and continued to meet until 1798. Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws - seen as a covenant between free men - and settled disputes. The Althing has deep historical and symbolic associations for the people of Iceland. The property includes the Þingvellir National Park and the remains of the Althing itself: fragments of around 50 booths built from turf and stone. Remains from the 10th century are thought to be buried underground. The site also includes remains of agricultural use from the 18th and 19th centuries. The park shows evidence of the way the landscape was husbanded over 1,000 years It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides being a location of historical significance, Þingvellir is also protected as a national park due to its unique geology and natural features. Almannagjá is a canyon formed between two tectonic plates, a visual representation of continental drift.

Þjórsárdalur valley traversed by Þjórsá river and three other rivers as well, a landscape of sharp contrasts such as flourishing birch woods, sandy lava fields, rivers and waterfalls. Gjáin is a stunning ravine with lush vegetation, numerous springs, bizarre rock formations and a picturesque little waterfall, Gjárfoss. Other remarkable waterfalls in the valley are Hjálparfoss and Háifoss. A flourishing farming community lived in Þjórsárdalur after the settlement, until the valley was swamped by ash from an eruption of Mt. Hekla in 1104.

Hella is a small town in the south on the shores of the river Ytri-Rangá and has around 781 inhabitants. The name of the town comes from caves near the river. It is said that Irish monks lived there in the times of first settlement. The volcano Hekla is nearby. The founding of Hella started in 1927 when Þorsteinn Björnsson built a store over by the bridge Ytri-Rangá in the land of Gaddstaðaflatir. That founder of Hella was built a memorial at the celebration of Hella's 50 years since the founding of it at 1977.

Hvolsvöllur The name of the town literally translates to "Hillfield". "Hvoll" is an archaic form of the modern Icelandic word "hóll", meaning "hill", and "völlur" means "field". The name is derived from the name of the historic farm Stórólfshvoll (Stórólfur's hill).

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