Goðafoss is one of the most visited waterfall in Iceland and means fall of the gods. Goðafoss is situated in the North of Iceland, near Myvatn in the region Norðurland, Suður-Þingeyjarsýsla. You can reach Goðafoss from road 1 (500 meter) and is easy accessible. A car park is in front of the waterfall. Goðafoss is only 12 meter high but with a wide of 30 meter and a huge amount of water that is falling, it is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland.
The waterfall is located near the hamlet Fossholl in the river Skjalfandafljot. With a length of 180 kilometer, it is the fourth largest river in Iceland. The river is fed by meltwater from the glacier Vatnajökull and ends at the Bay Skjálfandi.
Skjálfandafljót runs across a lava field which is approximately 7000 years old.
According to the sagas (Íslendingabók) Goðafoss got its name following an event in the year 999 or 1000. The Lawspeaker of the Althing at Thingvellir (Icelandic Parliament) was somebody named Thorgeir Ljósvetningagoði , a gentleman farmer of the Ljósavatn farm, 2 kilometers from the waterfall. The Vikings believed traditionally in many pagan gods. Led by Thorgeir the Althing decided to make the conversion to the Christian faith. When Thorgeir came back (in the year of conversion) from Thingvellir, he decided to throw all the wooden statues of pagan gods into the waterfall, and thus take away from the symbolic belief in pagan gods.
In the year 2000 a church was built on the farm Ljosavatn commemorating the 1000 year anniversary of Christianity in Iceland and named after Thorgeir. The church is open to visitors during the summer.
Several ships have been named after the waterfall. During World War II a steam freighter named SS Goðafoss was part of a convoy (UR-142) heading from Loch Ewe in the north west of Scotland to Reykjavík. This convoy was attacked near the southwest coast of Iceland on November 10, 1944 by the German submarine U-300. First the British steam tanker Shirvan wastorpedoed. Against the orders in the MS Goðafoss attempted to rescue the crew of the tanker. In addition, the ship was torpedoed itself. It sank within seven minutes, killing 25 of the 44 people on board.
There are several other fine waterfalls in the river Skjálfandafljót near each other: Aldeyjarfoss, Ingvararfoss, Barnafoss, Ullarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss. All waterfalls are in the Skjálfandafljót river which flows in a northerly direction from Vatnajökull glacier – Europe‘s largest glacier – and exits in Skjalfandaflói Bay.