Located in North Iceland between Akureyri and Lake Myvatn, this picturesque Godafoss or ‘Waterfall of the Gods’ is one of the most impressive in the country. Ice-blue glacial water flows over an elegant semi-circular arc. It creates blue-green swirling patterns in the water below among the surrounding lava.
According to the myth, in the year 1,000 Law-speaker of the Althing, Chieftain Thorgeir Thorkelsson, returned from Thingvellir with the decision that the nation of Iceland would convert to Christianity. He ceremoniously disposed of Norse pagan idols into the falls.
Godafoss waterfall is also a great setting for the photo enthusiast. It is especially a beautiful background for taking photos of the Northern Lights.
How high is Godafoss waterfall?
The water in Skjalfandafljot river falls 12 meters in Godafoss waterfall. The river has its origin in the Icelandic Highlands, running north through Bardardalur valley.
The story of Thorgeir Thorkelsson
Godafoss plays a role in the story of Thorgeir Thorkelsson, preserved in Islendingabook, written by Ari Thorgilsson in early 12th century. When Christianity came to Iceland it divided the people, those who wished to keep venerating the old Norse gods were not eager to be baptized and the country was on a brink of a civil war.
At Althing in either year 999 or 1000 the two groups came armed to the teeth en masse. Both groups nominated their own arbitrators, which finally agreed on letting Thorkelsson settle the dispute. Thorkelsson was a part of the group that venerated the old Norse gods, but was trusted by both parties and believed to be a fair and honorable man.
To fully understand why everyone agreed on having but a single person decide on the whole issue, one has to understand the importance of honor back then. Basically, every man was measured by their honor and being honorable meant everything to most people. Reading through the sagas and the Icelandic medieval literature this becomes very evident. Therefore the Christians didn’t have a huge problem with having a firm believer in Thor, Odinn and the other gods settle the dispute.
After pondering about this for three days Thorkelsson announced that the Icelander should be Christians, but believing in the old Norse gods was not forbidden, as long as you venerated them in in your own home. You could still hold your blót (pagan festivals) and eat horse meat. This decree was in fact very wise, since it settled the matter without antagonizing either group.
As the legend goes, though there’s no mention of this in Islendingabok, Thorkelsson returned home to his farm at Ljosavatn, close to Godafoss waterfall, and removed his idols of the Norse gods from his temple. He took the idols and threw them into the waterfall. This supposedly angered the gods, so they split the waterfall in two.