Nicknamed “The Land of Fire and Ice,” the jaw-dropping landscapes of Iceland do make you feel like you’ve reached the center of the Earth—or perhaps a new planet altogether. While the country is home to boiling mud pools, color-streaked skies ablaze with the Northern Lights, and its now-famous glowing Blue Lagoon, it was one volcano in particular that caught French writer Jules Verne’s imagination in Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Jules Verne is often considered the father of science fiction (a claim that remains controversial for some sci-fi die-hards). Along with other famous works including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth features Verne’s signature combination of science, adventure, and travel. Written in 1864, his story has since been adapted into various (and varying!) written editions, translated into languages across the globe, and brought to life through numerous film and television adaptations.
Journey to the Center of the Earth follows a German professor as he sets out on a journey to…you guessed it…the center of the Earth. Professor Otto Lidenbrock, the novel’s main character, learns of a doorway to Earth’s core in an old runic manuscript. In reality, these ancient texts are filled with stories of the Norse kings who once ruled Iceland and are written in a pre-Latin alphabet. Lidenbrock believes Snæfellsjökull, a volcano in western Iceland, is the portal to the center of the planet and sets out with his nephew on a subterranean adventure.
It’s no wonder Verne chose Icelandic’s otherworldly landscape for the setting of his famous sci-fi work. Technically, Snæfellsjökull is a stratovolcano with a glacial top; the name translates into “snow-fell glacier.”On a clear day, you can sometimes spot the snow-capped peak of Snæfellsjökull all the way from Reykjavik. The towering volcano is still active—though its last eruption was in AD 200. Located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, Snæfellsjökull National Park is a place you’ll visit on our tour, Iceland: The Golden Circle & Ring Road.
Snæfellsjökull isn’t the only site to admire on the west coast. Nicknamed “Iceland in miniature,” the region boasts all the stunning scenery the country is famous for, including glaciers, lava flows, and dramatic seaside cliffs.