Introduction

Þingvellir National Park, 40km northeast of central Reykjavík, is Iceland’s most important historical site and a place of vivid beauty. The Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament, the Alþingi (pronounced ál-thingk-ee, also called Alþing), here in AD 930. The meetings were conducted outdoors and, as with many Saga sites, there are only the stone foundations of ancient encampments left. The site has a superb natural setting, in an immense, fissured rift valley, caused by the meeting of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, with rivers and waterfalls. The country’s first national park, Þingvellir was made a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2004.