Thingvellir National Park (2004)
Iceland

Back to index

Žingvellir (Thingvellir) is the National Park where the Althing - an open-air assembly, which represented 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.  Iceland 1930. World Cultural Heritage. Thingvellir. Natkonal Flag. Iceland 1930. World Cultural Heritage. Thingvellir. Map of Iceland.

Located on an active volcanic site, the property includes the Žingvellir National Park and the remains of the Althing itself: fragments of around 50 booths built of turf and stone. Remains from the 10th century are thought to be buried underground. 

Iceland. World Cultural Heritage. Postcard showing a view of Thingvellir National Park.

The site also includes remains of agricultural use from 18th and 19th centuries, the Thingvellir Church and adjacent farm, and the population of arctic char in Lake  Thingvallavatn. 

The park shows evidence of the way the landscape was husbanded over 1,000 years. 

  • A very nice framed postcard, showing a view from Thingvellir National Park, with various Icelandic stamps in the frame. None of the stamps are related to Thingvellir as such, but all of them to Icelandic social and cultural life. 

The Althing and its hinterland, the Žingvellir National Park, represent, through the remains of the assembly ground, the booths for those who attended, and through landscape evidence of settlement extending back possibly to the time the assembly was established, a unique reflection of mediaeval Norse/Germanic culture and one that persisted in essence from its foundation in 980 AD until the 18th century. 

Iceland 1991. Map and naval chart, engraved by Czeslaw Slania.

Pride in the strong association of the Althing to mediaeval Germanic/Norse governance, known through the 12th century Icelandic sagas, and reinforced during the fight for independence in the 19th century, have, together with the powerful natural setting of the assembly grounds, given the site iconic status as a shrine for the national. 

Some notes about the Icelandic national flag. 
The current flag was adopted in 1915, and approved by King Christian X of Denmark in 1919.  

Iceland 1930. Thingvellir and National Flag. Part of a set of 15 stamps.

Iceland was ruled by Norway from 1264 until 1381, and then until 1944 by Denmark, as part of the Danish Commonwealth (together with Greenland and The Faeroe Islands). 

In 1944 a referendum made way for the island's independency, and the Republic of Iceland was created.  

The colours may be understood in two ways:  either as a direct reversal of the colours of the Norwegian national flag, or an "inversion" of the Danish colours: a red cross on a white background, surrounded by blue that symbolizes the ocean surrounding the country.

Back to index


Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved