Architectural monuments in Bulgaria 3
Pirin National Park
Pirin National Park is one of three national parks in Bulgaria and covers about 4000 ha from the northern part of the Pirin mountain. This is the most beautiful, majestic and most visited part of Pirin. The relief of this part of the mountain has an alpine character, and the highest point of the mountain is the second highest peak in Bulgaria – Vihren (2915 m.). During the existence of the Thracians, the mountain received its most ancient name Orbelus the snow-white, and the Slavs called it Perin or Perun. It is generally accepted that the name of the mountain is associated with the Slavic god Perun – the lord of thunder. At the same time, deeper research shows that, most likely, the name comes from the ancient Thracian word “peruntos”, which is translated from Thracian as “rock”. The oldest known name of the mountain is Orbelus from the time of the ancient Thracians, which means “snow-white”.
The Pirin National Park is made up of diverse natural, cultural and historical sites. Age-old forests, amazing marble giant peaks, terrible depths of depressions, emerald lakes, mossy edelweiss and transparent rivers represent a natural landscape and habitat for animals like wild goats, wild cats, bears, chamois, wolves and others.
More than 182 species of medicinal plants grow in the park. 1315 species of higher plants have been described, which is about one third of the Bulgarian flora. About 320 species of mosses and 165 species of algae are found in the park. Here is the oldest tree in Bulgaria – Pine Baykusheva, its age is more than 1300 years.
Diverse topography and flora are a prerequisite for a diverse animal world. Over 2000 species of invertebrates and over 200 species of vertebrates have been described in the national park. Common tree frog (Woodweed) and Balkan tortoise live in the park, they are included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
There are 159 bird species registered on the territory of the Pirin National Park, which are almost half of the bird species on the territory of Bulgaria (40%).
Pirin is a mountain rich in water sources. It gives rise to a large number of rivers belonging to the drainage basins of the Struma and Mesta rivers. The largest water wealth of Pirin is numerous lakes of glacial origin. They are located in small and large boxes. These lakes are relatively deep and transparent, and due to the high altitude, the water in them is icy. One of the lakes is Popovoe Lake, the second deepest and fourth largest lake in Bulgaria.
Within the borders of the national park there are two nature reserves – “Bayuvi dupki – Dzhindzhiritsa”, which is one of the oldest reserves in Bulgaria, and the reserve “Yulen”. There are several park districts in the park – “Sinanitsa”, “Bayuvi dupki”, “Vikhren”, “Bezbog” and “Kamenitsa” (it also includes the area “Trite reki”). The National Park Visitor Information Center is located in Bansko.
Rila National Park
Rila National Park is the largest of the three national parks in Bulgaria. In fact, it is one of the largest protected areas in Europe. This area was declared a national park in 1992 in order to protect several separate ecosystems, as well as to protect certain historical and cultural sites of national importance. Its territory covers 81,000 hectares, the central and highest parts of the Rila Mountain, including the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula – Musala (2925 m.). Its borders include four reserves: Sharangalitsa, Skakavitsa, Central Rila Reserve, Ibyr.
Some of the deepest and longest rivers on the Balkan Peninsula originate from the mountain, such as the Maritsa River. In essence, the name of the mountain comes from the Thracian “roul”, which means “a lot of water”. There are 120 natural lakes on the territory of the mountain, 70 of which are of glacial origin.
Rila is one of the mountains where tourism is well developed. On the territory of the national park there are several resorts intended for winter and summer tourism, including the first and largest ski resort in Bulgaria – Borovets.
Rila is home to two of the attractions included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is the Rila Monastery, which is located on the border of the park with the Seven Rila Lakes.
Rila National Park is one of the favorite places for hikers on mountain trails. A large number of tourist routes and roads of various types and difficulties have been built and marked in the park. Two European tourist roads, E4 and E8, also pass from here. The main entry points to the park are the resorts of Panichishte, Malevitsa, Borovets, Semkovo, Belmeken, Kostenets. Secondary points – Govedartsi, x. Gerginitsa, resort villages Yundola, Predel, m. Slavovo, r. Dupnishka Bistritsa and many others. The Rila National Park attracts a large number of visitors and gives many people the opportunity to enjoy contact with wild nature. More and more of these visitors are interested in specialized tourism and outdoor recreation in the park. This includes – observation of wild animals and birds, photography and extreme sports such as hang gliding,
mountain biking, horseback riding, mountaineering and rock climbing.
17 huts were built for tourists (Belmeken, Skakavitsa, Rila Lakes, Seven Lakes, Musala, Macedonia, Maritsa, Chakalitsa, Dobarsko, Grynchar, Zavrachitsa, Chakyr Voyvoda, Malevitsa, Vada, Lovna, Otovitsa, Ivan Vazov). Since the policy of the park management is to encourage hiking and to limit the gathering of many people in one place, tourists are allowed to spend only one night in the huts.
Central Balkan National Park
The Central Balkan is one of three national parks in Bulgaria. The park covers 720 m² of the highest middle part of the Balkan Mountains. The average height above sea level is about 1000 m, with the lowest point being Karlovo (500 m) and the highest point Botev (2376 m). The Central Balkan was declared a national park in 1991. Its territory covers centuries-old beech forests and spacious mountain ranges covered with fertile pastures. One third of the area of the Central Balkan is occupied by nine nature reserves – “Boatin”, “Tsarichina”, “Steneto”, “Dzhendema”, “Kozya Stena”, “Severen Dzhendem”, “Stara Reka”, “Peeshchi Skali” and “Sokolna”.
Many Bulgarian rivers originate from this part of the mountain, of which the largest are Osam and Rositsa (to the north) and Topolica, Stryama and Tundzha (to the south). Almost all of the rivers flowing out of the park are steep, with many rapids including some of the highest and most impressive waterfalls in Bulgaria – Paradise Spryskalo (124.5 m), Karlovskoe Spryskalo (120 m), Vidim Spryskalo (80 m) and Kademliy Spryskalo (72 m).
Hiking tourism is best developed in the national park. Many routes and tourist roads have been created. In addition, 10 routes for equestrian tourism and several bike paths have been created. The routes pass through specially selected areas suitable for observing flora and fauna specific to the park, as well as for observing historical and cultural attractions located within its territory. Among the majestic landscapes, in the park there is an amazing variety of animals and plants of the Middle Balkan Mountains. Every tourist should take into account the frequent and rapid changes in the meteorological conditions of the park.
Huts located within the national park – 20, and all of them are inscribed in the Bulgarian Tourist Union (BTU). The total number of beds in the huts is 1400! And in tourist bases – more than 250 beds. They are the responsibility of national park managers.