Sprengisandur is a historical and iconic route located in Iceland, connecting remote regions of the island to the Plains of the Parliament, Þingvellir, where the yearly parliament, Alþingi, was held. This route, also known as Sandr or Sandleið, was one of the several crucial north-south routes that played a significant role during the Icelandic Free State.
However, it was not without its challenges. Sprengisandur was only accessible during the summer months, as it was impassable in winter due to snow and in spring due to floods. Although it was the shortest way for some Icelanders, for example, those living around Lake Ljósavatn and Vopnafjörður, it had the longest stretch through the forbidding inner desert regions among other possible routes. With no human habitation or horse fodder for hundreds of kilometers, one needed to ride as fast as possible to reach the inhabited regions before running out of supplies. This feature gave the area its name, with the Icelandic verb “sprengja” meaning “to drive a horse to death”.
Medieval Icelanders avoided Sprengisandur if possible, even if it meant taking the longer route. As depicted in Hrafnkels Saga and Ölkofra þáttr, chieftains preferred to travel through inhabited regions instead of risking the harrowing journey through the inner desert.
Experience the rich history of Sprengisandur and uncover the challenges faced by medieval Icelanders as they traveled through this ancient pass. Visit during the summer months to witness the beauty and wonder of this iconic route.
The breathtaking beauty of Sprengisandur can now be experienced by modern-day travelers. Despite its challenging terrain, the pass attracts adventurous tourists and nature enthusiasts who seek to experience the raw and unspoiled beauty of the Icelandic wilderness.