Have you ever wondered where Game of Thrones was filmed? The UNESCO World Heritage site, Þingvellir National Park, is one of the major highlights of Iceland’s Golden Circle sightseeing tour, as well as a major shooting location for HBO’s Game of Thrones series. Check out our photo gallery below to see Þingvellir like never before.
Covering a total area of 35.8 square miles and situated directly beside Iceland’s largest lake, Þingvallavatn, Þingvellir is a moss-laden lava field on the Mid-Atlantic Rift, positioned directly between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. All of this culminates to make the area something of a geological wonder, complemented further by the diverse attractions found within its borders.
For example, take the waterfall Öxarárfoss. Translating to “Axe River Falls”, this stunning feature is available to visit in both summer and winter, making it a fantastic subject for photographers interested in capturing Iceland’s seasonal contrasts. The waterfall was artificially created in ancient times and drops twenty-metres over the lip of Almannagjá gorge into a clear glacial pool.
Another important attraction is Silfra Fissure, Iceland’s premier scuba diving and snorkelling site. Each year, thousands of visitors adorn themselves in drysuits, snorkels and fins, taking to the crystal clear water of the fissure for that rare experience of swimming “between the continents”.
Silfra is often cited as one of the top ten dive and snorkelling sites in the world thanks to its staggering water visibility, often exceeding 100 metres.
Given this diversity of natural beauty, it should come as little surprise that Þingvellir was always poised to serve as a shooting location for Game of Thrones, of which the first episode of Season 8 will be out this coming Sunday, 14th April.
Almannagjá gorge acts as The Vale of Arryn—in particular, The Bloody Gate at the Eyrie—where Littlefinger and Sansa Stark arrive in Season 1. The gorge makes an appearance again in Season 4 when The Hound brings a kidnapped Arya Stark to her aunt, only to realise her aunt has passed.
Another reason for Þingvellir’s World Heritage status is because of its cultural importance to the Icelandic people. Þingvellir was the founding place of the Icelandic parliament, the Alþingi, in 930AD, making it one of the first elected parliaments in the world. Icelanders from across the country would travel extraordinary distances each year to attend the Alþingi where they would hear the passing of judgement and new legislation.
This is where Þingvellir derives its name; The Fields of Parliament. Naturally, Þingvallavatn translates to Lake of Parliament.
It was at one such parliamentary meeting where the matter of Iceland’s national belief system was raised. As a pagan country that had long worshipped the Gods of Norse Mythology, Icelanders were faced with an encroaching Christianity that threatened civil war. The decision fell to the lawspeaker, Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi Thorkelsson, who after a day and night of pondering decided that Iceland would adopt Christianity.
See also: Game of Thrones Self Drive | Iceland in 10 days
Talking about religion, guests to the national park also have the chance to visit Þingvallakirkja, a picturesque church that can trace its origins back to 1859. The church is available to visit each day from 9.00 to 17.00 between May and September.
As mentioned previously, Þingvellir is just one of the sites along Iceland’s famed Golden Circle sightseeing route, the other two being the explosive Geysir geothermal area and the mighty Gullfoss waterfall. For those with only a few days to spend in Iceland, this route is almost always recommended given that it showcases the beauty, drama and unique character of Icelanic nature. Check here for Golden Circle tours in Iceland.
Have you paid a visit to Þingvellir National Park in Iceland? Are you planning a Golden Circle during your trip here? Make sure to leave your thoughts and queries in the Facebook comments box below.