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3 Intriguing Sites In Iceland

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3 Intriguing Sites In Iceland

Date: Jan 23, 2022
Author: Collins.cidar 138 No Comments

Are you thinking of taking a trip to a place where nature take it stage around the continent of Europe, then is nowhere but Iceland. if you don’t know, travelling to Iceland is all about witnessing a rollercoaster of a thrilling journey of your life. There are a lot to know about the land of fire and ice that will captivate you throughout your trip. However, the country has a unique cultural heritage that had isolated them from the rest of Europe, giving them a place at the world’s top destination, not just for adventurer also for those who love looking for something different from what they are used to. If go to the Southern Region of Iceland you shall found the rift valley with its high cliffs makes Þingvellir National Park a magnificent natural backdrop for the open air parliamentary assembly of Iceland, checkout the volcanic island off the southern coast of Iceland is nothing but a lovely vent to see. So many more to find out in Iceland, but our list below will be a guide to most of the intriguing places you would like to see.

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park/photographer: Chris Ford/Flickr

A rift valley with its high cliffs makes Þingvellir National Park a magnificent natural backdrop for the open air parliamentary assembly (or Alþing) of Iceland, which was held there annually from around 930 AD to 1798. Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws – seen as a covenant between free people – and settled disputes. The Alþing has deep historical and symbolic associations for the people of Iceland. The property includes the Þingvellir National Park and the remains of the Alþing itself: fragments of around 50 booths built from turf and stone. Remains from the 10th century are thought to be buried underground. The property also includes Þingvellir Church and adjacent farm, the population of arctic char in Lake Þingvallavatn as well as remains of agricultural use from the 18th and 19th centuries. Its dramatic history dating back to the establishment of the Alþing gives insight into how a Viking Age pioneer community organized its society from scratch and evolved towards the modern world.

Þingvellir National Park is located in an active volcanic area, just 49 km east of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, and covers 24,000 ha, of which 9,270 ha constitute the World Heritage property. Its best-defined feature is a major rift, which has produced dramatic fissures and cliffs demonstrating inter-continental drifting in a spectacular and understandable way. The National Park is enclosed by a varied belt of mountains on three sides, featuring grass-covered lava fields, and Lake Þingvallavatn lies at its southern end. This outstanding scenery gives the area its unparalleled value.

The World Heritage property contains the physical remains of the Alþing and its long persistence at Þingvellir. There is a well-known kinship between the Alþing, Þingvellir, and Germanic Law and governance, documented through the Icelandic sagas and the written codification of the Grágás Laws. This closeness was strengthened in the 19th century by the independence movement and a growing appreciation of landscape values and their perceived association with ‘natural’ and ‘noble’ laws. Furthermore, the Alþing is closely linked to its hinterland (now the landscape of the National Park), an agricultural land that was traditionally used as grazing grounds for those attending the Alþing, and across which the tracks led to the Assembly grounds. The fossilised cultural landscape of the park reflects the evolution of the farming landscape over the past thousand years, with its abandoned farms, fields, tracks; associations with people and events recorded in place names and archival evidence also document the settlement in Iceland as well as the high natural values of this landscape. The inspirational qualities of Þingvellir’s landscape, derived from its unchanged dramatic beauty, its association with national events and ancient systems of law and governance, have lent the area its iconic status and turned it into the spiritual centre of Iceland. 

Surtsey

Surtsey/Photographer: Gayle/Flickr

Surtsey, a volcanic island approximately 32 km from the south coast of Iceland, is a new island formed by volcanic eruptions that took place from 1963 to 1967. It is all the more outstanding for having been protected since its birth, providing the world with a pristine natural laboratory. Free from human interference, Surtsey has been producing unique long-term information on the colonisation process of new land by plant and animal life. Since they began studying the island in 1964, scientists have observed the arrival of seeds carried by ocean currents, the appearance of moulds, bacteria and fungi, followed in 1965 by the first vascular plant, of which there were 10 species by the end of the first decade. By 2004, they numbered 60 together with 75 bryophytes, 71 lichens and 24 fungi. Eighty-nine species of birds have been recorded on Surtsey, 57 of which breed elsewhere in Iceland. The 141 ha island is also home to 335 species of invertebrates.

Vatnajökull National Park – Dynamic Nature of Fire and Ice

Vatnajökull National Park – Dynamic Nature of Fire and Ice/Thorvardur Arnason
Copyright: © Thorvardur Arnaso/UNESCO

The property, totalling over 1,400,000 ha, comprises the whole of Vatnajökull National Park, plus two contiguous protected areas. At its heart lies the c.780,000 ha Vatnajökull ice cap in southeast Iceland.

Iceland includes the only part of the actively spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge exposed above sea level, with the tectonic plates on either side moving apart by some 19 mm each year. This movement is accommodated in rift zones, two of which, the Eastern and Northern Volcanic Zones, pass through the property. Underneath their intersection is a mantle plume providing a generous source of magma. The property contains ten central volcanoes, eight of which are subglacial. Two of the latter are among the four most active in Iceland. Most of the property’s bedrock is basaltic, the oldest being erupted some 10 million years ago and the most recent in 2015. Outside of the ice cap, the terrain varies from extensive, flat lava flows to mountains, including tuyas and tindar (ridges) of brown hyaloclastites, erupted in fissure eruptions beneath ice age glaciers. The latter occur nowhere else in the world in such numbers.

The property comprises an entire system where magma and the lithosphere are incessantly interacting with the cryosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere to create extremely dynamic and diverse geological processes and landforms that are currently underrepresented or not found on the World Heritage List. It was here that the phrase “Fire and Ice” was coined. The Vatnajökull ice cap reached its greatest extent by the end of the 18th century and has on average been retreating since then. Recently, its retreat has accelerated in response to global warming, making the property a prime locality for exploring the impacts of climate change on glaciers and the landforms left behind when they retreat. The volcanic zones of the property hold endemic groundwater fauna that has survived the ice age and single-celled organisms prosper in the inhospitable environment of subglacial lakes that may replicate conditions on early Earth and the icy satellites of Jupiter and Saturn.

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