In light of the current debate regarding entry fees to Iceland’s natural marvels, historian Guðmundur Magnússon explains why Geysir truly belongs to the people of Iceland.
Published in the 2014 June-July issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.14. By Guðmundur Magnússon. Translated by Ásta Andrésdóttir. Photos by Páll Stefánsson and Magnús Ólafsson.
For nearly three centuries, the hot springs of Haukadalur, South Iceland, have been among the country’s most popular tourist destinations, its main attraction being the whimsical Geysir, which only erupts sporadically—sometimes decades pass in between its spectacular
eruptions of steam high up in the air.
Fifteen years have now passed since its last upsurge. Strokkur, which came about in a massive earthquake in 1789, has instead upheld the area’s reputation. This hot spring, which erupts constantly, is located right next to Geysir.
It is not known when the hot springs of Haukadalur began to blow. They are first mentioned in annals in 1294, after a major volcanic eruption of Hekla. However, it isn’t until the 17th century that the name Geysir is cited in public records. Perhaps the hot springs lay dormant until then. Or perhaps, back in the day, such natural phenomena were considered mundane and not worth writing about.
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