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1 Goðafoss aerial pano 2017.jpg
Aerial panorama of Goðafoss
Goðafoss is located in Iceland
LocationNorth of Iceland
Total height12 m (39 ft)
Total width30 m (98 ft)

Goðafoss (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈkɔːðaˌfɔsː]) is a waterfall in northern Iceland. It is located along the country's main ring road at the junction with the Sprengisandur highland road,[1] about 45 minutes from Akureyri, Iceland's second largest city.[2] The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres.[1] A 1.8-mile hiking trail loops around the waterfall area.[3]


Goðafoss seen from the Eastern bank in summer
Panorama of Goðafoss in winter

The origin of the waterfall's name is not completely clear. In modern Icelandic, the name can be read either as "waterfall of the goð (pagan idols)" or "waterfall of the goði (chieftain)." Linguist and placename expert Svavar Sigmundsson suggests that the name derives from two crags at the falls which resemble pagan idols. In 1879-1882, a myth was published in Denmark according to which the waterfall was named when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland in the year 999 or 1000. Upon returning home from the Alþingi, Þorgeir supposedly threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall. However, although the story of Þorgeir's role in the adoption of Christianity in Iceland is preserved in Ari Þorgilsson's Íslendingabók, no mention is made of Þorgeir throwing his idols into Goðafoss. The legend appears to be a nineteenth-century fabrication.[4] Nevertheless, a window in Akureyrarkirkja, the main church at Akureyri, illustrates this story.


MS Goðafoss, an Icelandic ship named after the waterfall, used to transport both freight and passengers. It was sunk by a German U-Boat in World War II, resulting in great loss of life.

In 2020, the waterfall was granted protected status.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Evans (2011). Iceland. Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 184162361X, 9781841623610. Page 365.
  2. ^ "Goðafoss". Guide to Iceland. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  3. ^ "Godafoss Waterfall". AllTrails.com. Retrieved December 29, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Svavar Sigmundsson. (2015, 29. júní). Er það rétt að Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði hafi hent goðum í Goðafoss? Vísindavefurinn. Retrieved from http://visindavefur.is/svar.php?id=70316
  5. ^ "Goðafoss Waterfall Declared Protected".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 65°40′48″N 17°32′24″W / 65.68000°N 17.54000°W / 65.68000; -17.54000