Goðafoss waterfall

Roadside Nature Pearl

Goðafoss is in located in river Skjálfandafljót which runs through Bárðardalur and Kinn in Northeast Iceland, and is just off main ring road 1 by the farm Fosshóll. It is among Iceland’s larger waterfalls and also very beautiful.

Skjálfandafljót runs across a lava field which is approximately 7000 years old. Through the ages the river has dug about 3 km up through the lava field a canyon which just below the falls is about 100m wide. Rocky promontories in the horseshoe shaped edge of the falls divide it into two main falls and a few smaller one, depending on the flow.

Waterfall of the Gods

Goðafoss is closely connected with one of the most important event in Icelandic history, the conversion to Christianity from heathendom or “the old custom” in the year 1000.

At that time Þorgeir Þorkelsson, chieftain from nearby Ljósavatn was lawspeaker in Iceland. As such he was faced with the task of settling the growing disputes between Christians and those who worshipped the old Nordic gods. Despite being a heathen priest himself, he decided that all of Iceland should be Christian, as is famously recorded in the Sagas.

Legend has it that, once he returned back to Ljósavatn from this historic Alþingi, he dispensed of his heathen gods by throwing them into the falls in a symbolic act of the conversion. This, according to the legend, is how Goðafoss got its name.

Þorgeirskirkja Church and Fosshóll

In the year 2000 a church was built by nearby lake Ljósavatn commemorating the 1000 year anniversary of Christianity in Iceland and named after chieftain Þorgeir. The church is open to visitors during the summer.

At Fosshóll close to Goðafoss is a small service center with a store, gas station and other services.