9 months ago
Friday, September 22, 2006
On this beautiful Friday morning, I thought I'd post a little of the flavor in another part of the world.
This is Thingviller. It has some of the most gorgeous sites of raw earth I've ever seen. Iceland sits atop the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where the plates of the African and American continent are separating by about an inch a year. In effect, the island is being torn in half and lava explodes from the Earth's center to fill the gap.
"There are two such mountain plumes on Earth which are so heavily active," said volcanologist Gudmundur Sigvaldason. "One here in the North Atlantic, the other in the Pacific, creating the Hawaiian Islands."
Thingviller is also the site of the world’s oldest parliament, Althingi. Thingvellir was the regular meeting place of the Althingi until 1799. The Althingi is both the oldest and greatest national institution. Its establishment, as an outdoor assembly held on the plains of Thingvellir from about the year 930 AD, laid the foundation for an independent national existence in Iceland.
Feuding farmers ended up giving the world its first parliament. In 930 -- in an effort to end brawling over issues like land and religion -- they convened an assembly on the grassy plains of Thingvellier in southwest Iceland.
It was a loud, messy affair. The plains were overrun by farmer-warriors, blacksmiths, crooks and people hawking food. And somehow they fashioned a working government amid the chaos.
"They stayed here for two weeks every year and decided all the laws, rules," said Stefan Tourrson, an assistant hotel manager and historian. "They put up the judge and juries and all the problems were solved, not only the governing of the country, but also the legal aspects, the sentencing of the criminals."
The countryside is so lovely - (if you like hot springs, steam vents and lava fields... which I DO). G's cousin Asa in Iceland once told me that "Us Icelanders like to see for miles at a time with an unobstructed view." I have to say I feel the same way. Everywhere you look you get a feast for the eyes.
I'd sure like to be there right now. G's youngest Daughter is visiting cousins and family in Iceland as I type this. I'm jealous!