A contest on the design of the reconstruction of the walking path through Almannagjá in Þingvellir national park kicked off yesterday. The walking path has been closed since last autumn due to a large rift opening up below it in March 2011.
Almannagjá in June 2011, while the walking path was still partially open. Photo by ESA.
The goal is to reopen Almannagjá, which is the main route through Þingvellir before last summer; the winning design is to be completed on May 1, 2012, ruv.is reports.
It will be challenging to design the path’s reconstruction as not only the characteristics of the new rift have to be taken into account but also the national park’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Þingvellir is of both geological and historical significance and sacred to Icelanders as it is the site where the Icelandic parliament, Alþingi, was founded in 930 AD.
Currently, tourists have to make do with taking photos through a wired fence. It is too dangerous to enter the path as the rift turned out to be much bigger and deeper than originally appeared to be the case; at first only parts of the path were fenced off.
Þingvellir and Almannagjá are among Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations. On Thursday morning a group of Russian tourists were visiting.
They celebrated Christmas in Iceland the following day; in the Russian Orthodox Church, the most festive day of the holiday season is January 6.
In Iceland, the day is called Þrettándinn (“The Thirteenth”) and is the official last day of Christmas when the last of the 13 Yule Lads returns home to the mountains. The day, albeit not a public holiday, is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks.