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Gullfoss is a waterfall located on the White River (Hvítá) in south central Iceland. Its name means the Golden Falls. The flow of the river from the regular rains and the glacial runoff, particularly in summer, makes Gullfoss the largest volume falls in Europe.
The Gullfoss is one of the most spectacular sights on earth. It is one of the natural wonders of the world. The wide White River (Hvítá) rushes southward. About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the left and flows down a wide curved three step "staircase" and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 m and 21 m) into a crevice 32 m (105 ft) deep. The crevice, about 20 m (60 ft) wide, and 2.5 km in length, is at right angles to the flow of the river. The average of water running down this waterfall is by 100 – 180 m³/s in the summertime and 50 – 110 m³/s in the wintertime. The highest flood measured was 2000 m³/s.
During the first half of the 20th century and some years into the late 20th century, there were much speculation and attempts to utilize Gullfoss to create electricity. During this period, the waterfall was rented indirectly by its owners, Tómas Tómasson and Halldór Halldórsson, to foreign investors which wanted to utilize the waterfall; however, the investors' attempts were unsuccessful, in at least one case due to lack of money. The waterfall was at last sold to the state of Iceland. But even after it was sold, there was speculation and plans of utilizing Hvítá, which would have changed the waterfall forever. This was not done, and later the waterfall was conserved.
Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson was determined to save the waterfall from utilization and even threatened to throw herself into the waterfall. A very popular story is that Sigríður did save the waterfall from utilization, however, this is not true. Her attempts did not save the waterfall; there were other reasons for it not to be utilized.
A stone memorial to Sigriður, located above the falls, depicts her profile.
The place is together with Þingvellir and the geysirs of Haukadalur part of the most famous sights of Iceland, the Golden Circle.
Tours where you can see the waterfall, Golden Circle by bus or Golden Circle by Super Jeep.