Tucked away in Þingvellir National Park, Southern Iceland is a small church. By its anglicized name, “Thingvellier,” this breathtaking location was where the Althing parliamentary general assembly met between 930 CE and 1798. It has also been home to a church for over 1,000 years.
After Iceland accepted Christianity around 1000 CE, wood to build a church, and a bell to adorn its tower were sent from Norway as a gift from the delightfully named King Olaf the Stout, according to the history of Norwegian kings written down by Snorri Sturluson, the Icelandic poet and historian. It stood as a fine little addition to the lush natural surroundings where Iceland’s government formed and operated for centuries.
The church currently on the site dates back to 1859 and is called Þingvallakirkja. Small in size, but no less beautiful for it, the church, with its warming wooden interior, resembles more a snug cabin in the snow-filled, woods than a house of worship. The historic church has been repaired and updated a number of times down the years, but even today, the little church looks like something out of the past.
Next to the church is a modest cemetery of around 30 graves, a peaceful final resting place for a handful of souls, set in one the world’s most beautiful locations.