Exploring Iceland

Exploring Iceland

Exploring Iceland | History, Nature & Magic!

Exploring Iceland is a video project showcasing some of Iceland’s famous and noteworthy sights, delving into history, folklore, science, witchcraft, and more! Learn about more than a thousand years of human history on this remote North Atlantic island, as well as the unique natural history of the land of fire and ice! 

Full video will be available July 3, 2024 at 9:00am (MT)!

Below are some of the extra photos and notes from my trip in October. Enjoy!


Hallgrímskirkja is an Evangelical-Lutheran church in the heart of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. The church was designed by famous Icelandic architect Guðjon Samuelsson, and it’s meant to resemble Iceland’s basalt cliffs. This church is a marvel, once can’t help but be moved when standing beside or within the stark and towering monolith. 

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is spectacular on so many levels. It’s a rift valley, which means that the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling, ripping away from each other at Þingvellir – creating the stunning gorges and valleys throughout the region. Most rifts occur along the sea floor, in the depths away from view, but this is one of the few places on Earth where a rift can be seen and visited without a submarine (The Great Rift Valley in Africa is another). 

In addition to a fascinating natural history, Þingvellir is also a very important place for Iceland’s history and culture. Þingvellir is Icelandic for “Assembly Plains,” and it was here that Iceland’s parliament – the Alþing – convened annually from its establishment in 930 until 1798.

The Alþing was far more than a mere meeting for government. Icelandic Sagas mention beer brewers, food sellers, sword sharpeners and even clowns congregating. The area became a temporary capital of the country during the Alþing, and in many ways Þingvellir laid the foundation for Icelandic culture, language and literature.

Þingvellir National Park. Here a large canyon has formed as the two pieces of earth slowly move away from one another.


The Westfjords in are Iceland’s least populated and least visited region, but it is home to breathtaking and pristine, untouched wilderness. The drive takes you along Iceland’s northwest coast, and meanders in and out of stunning fjords along the way.

One interesting building I came across while in the Westfjords was this out-of-place castle, called Arngerðareyri. Trading began in the region in 1884, but the famous “castle”, known locally as Kastalinn, built in 1929 for a manager of a trading company. Who wouldn’t want to build themself a castle at the mouth of a remote, peaceful Icelandic fjord… I sure do!

One region in the Westfjords, Strandir, is famous for its long history of witchcraft. In addition to the wonderful and fascinating Holmavík Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft (Which is a must-see if folklore and history are an interest!), there is also Kotbýli kuklarans, the Sorcerer’s CottageThis turf house is a recreation of what a Sorcerer’s cottage might have looked like during the 17th century Icelandic witch hunts, and consists of 3 connected turf houses made from stones and driftwood according to traditional methods. 

People in Iceland have lived in turf houses since the island was settled around the year 874CE, and the practice continued until 1966. Inside this turf house one can find different objects, reproductions of what might have been in an Icelander’s home 400 years ago. A hearth for cooking (and perhaps concocting potions?). Seal pelts and sheep skins for bedding to keep warm on the cold Arctic nights. Bones from whales and livestock animals, which bored children once pretended were animals or whatever else they could imagine.



Iceland is famous for its many gorge-ous waterfalls. Of the thousands of waterfalls in the country, I visited three of the more well-known ones: Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skógafoss

Water plummeting over the 21 metre edge of Gullfoss' second falls.
Gullfoss from the trailhead.
Birds-eye view of Gullfoss.
Langjökull, the glacier that feeds Gullfoss.
Seljalandsfoss is a 60 metre tall waterfall along Iceland's south coast, and one of the only waterfalls in the world you can walk behind!
Skógafoss is 62 metres tall and is found along the same set of cliffs as Seljalandsfoss.

Disclaimers and Notes:

  •  All images in the blog post are mine. Most of the footage used in the video was captured on a trip to Iceland in October 2023, all other images are credited at the bottom of the page.
  • Why did I include International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in my video: I like it.


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  15. Sign at Thingvellir National Park. (N.D.). Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. 
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  30. Stringer, M. (2015). “A War on Women? The Malleus Maleficarum and the Witch-Hunts in Early Modern Europe.” University of Mississippi eGrove. https://egrove.olemiss.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1722&context=hon_thesis  Accessed May 20, 2024. 
  31. “Witch-hunts in Iceland.” (N.D.).  Galdradýningin á Holmavík https://galdrasyning.is/en/galdrasagan/. Accessed May 8, 2024. 
  32. Lewsey, F. (2023). “Witchcraft accusations were an ‘occupational hazard’ for female workers in early modern England.”  University of Cambridge. https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/witchcraft-work-women Accessed May 20, 2024.
  33. Marshall, B. (2019). “Most witches were women, because witch hunts were all about persecuting the powerless.” The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/most-witches-are-women-because-witch-hunts-were-all-about-persecuting-the-powerless-125427#:~:text=Across%20New%20England%2C%20where%20witch,in%20New%20England%20were%20female. Accessed May 20, 2024.
  34. “A True Legal Horror Story: The Laws Leading to the Salem Witch Trials.” (N.D.).  New England Law – Boston. https://www.nesl.edu/blog/detail/a-true-legal-horror-story-the-laws-leading-to-the-salem-witch-trials#:~:text=Evidence%20points%20to%20several%20factors,Town%2C%20and%20the%20simmering%20tensions Accessed May 20, 2024.
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  41. “Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi.” (N.D.). Katla Geopark. https://www.katlageopark.com/geosites/mainly-geology/seljalandsfoss-and-gljufrabui/. Accessed May 4, 2024.
  42. “Steinahellir.” (N.D.). Katla Geopark. https://www.katlageopark.com/geosites/geology-culture/steinahellir/. Accessed May 4, 2024.
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  44. “Skógafoss.” (N.D.). Katla Geopark. https://www.katlageopark.com/geosites/geology-culture/skogafoss/. Accessed May 4, 2024.

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