Þjórsárdalur

  • Þjórsárdalur has many interesting spots

When the first settlers started arriving in Iceland between AD 874 and 930, South Iceland was the area with the most arable land. Even so, Þjórsárdalur must have looked like a veritable Shangrila. This beautiful, lush valley, with its fertile soil, picturesque waterfalls and tranquil ponds attracted some people to build gladly farms and crofts and to count their blessings. That is, until 1104 when the ferocious volcano, Mount Hekla erupted and destroyed the valley.  Þjórsárdalur is rather flat, and the soil is mostly pumice due to Hekla's frequent eruptions. And for the very same reason you will find uniquely fascinating rock and lava formations throughout the area. It is also true that whenever an eruption destroys beautiful rivers and waterfalls, it equally creates new natural wonders. Apart from Mount Hekla, there are other volcanoes adjacent to Þjórsárdalur, e.g. the Vatnaöldur volcanic system that produced Iceland's largest lava field, Þjórsárhraun (The Þjórsá Lava Field).

But, the Icelander's are nothing if not resilient. Today, Þjórsárdalur is mostly fertile farmland as both farmers and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland work tirelessly at reclaiming the earth covered by pumice with lupine and several varieties of grass.

There is much to see and admire in Þjórsárdalur – and if you go to the Stöng farm, you will get a piece of history. Stöng was covered in ash in the 1104 eruption, but was excavated in 1939 and has now been rebuilt. It is an excellent opportunity to learn what life was like in Iceland in ancient times.