Sunday, December 9, 2012

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) - The Thing Fields

Left: View from Almannagjá Looking North Toward Armansfell. Right: View South over Þingvellir
View from Almannagjá Looking North Toward ArmansfellView South over Þingvellir

I can’t tell you how long the name of this place has held me tongue-tied. Before going to Iceland and visiting the national park and now that we have returned, I’m still unsure about pronouncing it. I still slur it in conversation hoping no one will notice. Well here’s my last attempt to understand it.

  • In Icelandic it is written: Þingvellir.
  • It is often anglicized as Thingvellir or as Thing Fields. The former is the spelling the park uses itself (
  • You can use Wikipedia to help decipher the correct pronunciation as : θiŋkˌvɛtlɪr where
    • θ think
    • i pea
    • ŋ sing
    • k sky
    • v very
    • ɛ pet
    • t sty
    • ɪ pick
    • r (voiceless, like hr)

We first learned about the THING Project on a sign in a café. According to the plaque we saw, “Things are the assembly sites spread across North West Europe as a result of the Viking diaspora and Norse settlements.” In fact the national parliament of Iceland is called the Alþingi (anglicized as Althing or Althingi) literally means “all-thing”. The parliament was established at Þingvellir in 930 and remained there until 1789. The Þingvellir National Park was founded in 1930.

We spent about four hours wandering around the park, most of the time was walking the Almannagjá - a small canyon really - that marks the eastern boundary of the North American plate. Its equivalent canyon across the graben (the wide plain or fault trough that Þingvellir is on the west edge of) marks the western boundary of the Eurasian plate and is called Hrafnagjá. For more on the geology of this area, see Geology and tectonics of Þingvellir.

There are many ways into the park. The most typical entry is via Hakið Visitor Center, with an interpretive center and access to the Almannagjá. We came into the park from the north in the plain/graben from route 361. The only food option (besides bringing your own) is at Þjónustumiðstöðin Information Centre, at the junction of 36 and 361. It has limited hours off season.

Thingvellir Brochure
Thingvellir Brochure Thingvellir Brochure

Thingvellir – Near Law Rock Looking SouthThingvellir – Near Law Rock Looking South

Looking South Over the Rift Almannagjá and Its Walking PathLooking South Over the Rift Almannagjá and Its Walking Path

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for scanning the brochure - this is very helpful.


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