Information about Althingi

The Alþingi is Iceland’s longest running and highest institution of government, having been formed amidst the stunning beauty of Þingvellir (“Parliamentary Fields”) in the year 930AD. The formation of the Alþingi was the country’s first step to solidifying a national identity, creating not only the Icelandic Commonwealth (until its end in 1262), but also, what was arguably the longest running parliament in history. 

History

Upon the Alþingi’s formation, Viking chieftain and their tribes met for two-week sessions at the Lögberg, or ‘Law Rock’, at the base of what is known today as the North American tectonic plate, to discuss matters of politics in a free and open discussion. At the centre of these proceedings was the Lögrétta, or Law Council. Any law abiding citizen of the land was free to attend and encouraged to do so, as the open air assembly ensured a level of transparency to the meetings. These sessions quickly became the main event of the year’s social calendar, with farmers, merchants, travellers, craftsmen and warriors all in attendance, staying in temporary camps called 'búðir' with their families. 

For two weeks, unifying laws and customs were read aloud by the Lawspeaker to these assemblies, largely by employing the North American tectonic plate as a literal sounding board. Using this method, the Lawspeaker's’ voice could reach all those in attendance. From this position, new legislation was pronounced, political disputes were resolved and justice was implemented. 

In 1262, after nearly two decades of civil war, Icelandic Chieftains finally succumbed to the King of Norway, pledging their allegiance to him. This newly imposed crown rule had a number of consequences, one of which was the changing structure of the Alþingi. Though it still convened at Þingvellir, the lawspeaker could now only pass laws signed off by the Norwegian crown. The Lögrétta was reassigned as an acting court for the region and was held as accountable to the King for any violations to Norway’s rule. Sessions at the Alþingi transformed from the enacting and pronouncements of new law to primarily, the resolution of legal disputes. 

This continued upon the formation of the Kalmar Union (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) at the end of the 14th Century, when the rule of Iceland transferred across to the Danes. Denmark was an absolute monarchy and was quick to strip Icelanders of certain ancient rights they had always held close. One of these was the right to assembly, to which the King was highly suspicious. The Alþingi came to an end at Thingvellir in 1798 and was abolished entirely in 1800. The Lögrétta still convened throughout this period at Hólavellir. However, due to an increase in national sentiment throughout the 19th Century, the Danish crown was forced to secede their control and allowed Iceland to re-establish the Alþingi in 1843, in the country’s capital, Reykjavik. 

There were a number of changes to the structure and purpose of the Alþingi throughout the early 1900s. However, on the 9th April 1940, Iceland severed its ties with its former colonial master, the then Nazi-occupied Denmark, gaining national independence. In 1944, the Republic of Iceland was officially established. Today, the Alþingi resides at Parliament House, in downtown Reykjavik. 

Services near Althingi

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Althingi

Dómkirkjan

  The small and charming Domkirkja church is the central Lutheran church in Iceland.  The Domkirkja is situated at Reykjavik's main pu...

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Austurvöllur

  Austurvollur is a public square in the centre of Reykjavik and a popular gathering place. Around the square are cafés, clubs, sho...

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Lækjargata

  Laekjargata is a street in central Reykjavik. The street has some of Reykjavik's oldest houses and features several cafés, restaura...

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Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre

Harpa is Rekjavík’s premier concert hall and conference centre. Opened in 2011, it was designed by a collaboration between Danish-Icela...

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Whale Exhibition Center

The Whale Exhibiton Center is a floating information and exhibition center at Reykjavik harbor. The Whale Exhibiton Center is focused on informing it...

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National Museum

  The Icelandic National Museum, located at Sudurgata 41 in Reykjavik, displays objects providing a great insight to the nation's cultural h...

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Hallgrimskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran church, located on top of hill Skólavörðuhæð in the centre of Reykjavík. At 74...

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Sun Voyager

The Sun Voyager (Sólfarið) is a large steel sculpture of a ship, located at Sæbraut by the seaside of central Reykjavík. T...

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Laugavegur (street)

  Laugavegur is the main shopping street in Reykjavik, located in the city centre. Laugavegur starts from Bankastraeti in the west and joins Kr...

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Reykjavík

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world. Despite a small population (120.000 and more tha...

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Perlan

Perlan ('The Pearl') is a museum and rotating glass dome built on top of six water tanks that together store 24 million litres of Reykjav&ia...

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Ásmundarsafn

  Asmundarsafn in Laugardalur valley in Reykjavik is a museum dedicated to the works of Icelandic sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson. Along with the ...

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Nauthólsvík

  Nautholsvik beach is a highly popular resort, located southwest of Oskjuhlid in Reykjavik. Nautholsvik offers great opportunites for for...

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Seltjarnarnes

  Seltjarnarnes is a township in the Reykjavik district. It has a population of about 4600 people and land-wise it is the smallest township in th...

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Dynjandi

  Dynjandi (meaning ‘thunderous’), at the end of Arnarfjordur, is the most powerful waterfall in the Westfjords and breathtakin...

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Laugardalur

  Laugardalur valley is an area  in Reykjavik. Among its attractions are the remains of the old washing pools - from which the valley ...

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Kópavogur

Kópavogur is a municipality in the Capital Region of Iceland. It is the largest town of those surrounding Reykjavík City, as well a...

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Grótta

Grótta is a lighthouse on the tip of the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, in the north-westernmost part of the Greater Reykjavík Area. It has ...

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Viðey

From the Skarfabakki pier at Sundahofn harbour in Reykjavik (around 5 km from the center) you can take a ferry to Videy island in Kollafjordur bay. V...

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Bessastaðir

  Bessastadir is the official residence of the president of Iceland and is situated in Alftanes, near Reykjavik. In the 19th century Iceland&&#;...

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Tours near Althingi

Segway Tour of Reykjavik

Our scheduled Segway tour may include but is not limited to the following places. Harpa concert......

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Reykjavík City Sightseeing by minibus

On this tour you will see the The old Höfði house where the all-important summit between the......

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Reykjavik Walking Tour | Explore Iceland's Capital with a Local Guide

Learn all about Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, on this guided walking tour. Visit its......

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Money Talk (Financial Tour of Iceland)

The tour will take you to some of the sites of this dramatic and colorful history of the......

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Private - Reykjavik Sightseeing tour

Just arrived to Iceland and you can’t check in into your hotel room, why not use the time and......

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