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Þingvellir was probably my favourite stop today. A National Park that "straddles two continents" as my leaflet so dramatically tells me, between 930 and 1798 it was home to the gatherings of Iceland's general assembly (the Alþingi). Its steep crags and location on the edge of the country's largest lake (Þingvallavatn) give it the perfect acoustics for oratory and loud law-making, which is exactly what would happen when the parliament gathered there back in the day. Also what happened when Iceland converted to Christianity in 1000AD, and when it declared itself a republic independent from Denmark almost a millenium later; it's still a pretty relevant place in the national mind. Other exciting things it played host to were countless gruesome punishments and executions! Many of Iceland's male sorcerers were burned at the stake here, and women were drowned for crimes like incest and fornication.

The main pathway that leads up to the summit and the parliamentary site itself is flanked by jutting rock-faces and mossy crags that start to morph into troll faces if you stare for long enough. A mini waterfall appears halfway through the ascent, a picture-perfect blend of greens and blues whose depths are lined with hoards of glittering coins tossed in by patriotic Icelanders and lemming-like tourists alike. Þingvellir's position across two tectonic plates means that the crags are littered with cracks and fissures and nooks and crannies that create pleasant little pockets of silence away from the buzz of the tour bus masses, and from the summit you can look out over the lake itself and an angular church surrounded by streams - on the very same spot as one of the first religious buildings in the country all those centuries ago. I wish we'd had more time here, as it's very beautiful.

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08/09/14

Dorothy

It looks so lush and peaceful! Love it.