Pirin National Park

Pirin Mountains

 

 

Friendly warning!

Snakes are common even above a tree line. Watch your step. If you see a viper (above) stop and slowly retreat

 

Description of Pirin National Park

Pirin National Park covers most of the Pirin Mountain, located in southwestern Bulgaria. Pirin National Park is one of the three national parks in the Republic of Bulgaria. The other two are Rila and the Central Balkans.

The park occupies a significant part of the Pirin Mountain. Historically, the boundaries and size of the national park have undergone many changes.

Vihren National Park was established on November 8, 1962 in order to protect the forests located in the highest parts of the mountain. The park had an area of ​​about 6,200 hectares, which is a small part of its territory today. In 1974, by decree of the Ministry of Forestry, it was renamed Pirin National Park, and its territory was significantly increased.

A separate directorate, which is responsible for the protection and development of the park, was established in 1979. The headquarters of this directorate is in the town of Bansko. It was declared a National Park in 1998 after the creation of the Protected Areas Act in the Republic of Bulgaria. The territory of the national park is 40,332.4 hectares. The management of the park, once it has adopted the status of a National Park, is the task of the Ministry of Environment and Water.

The national park borders the municipalities of Gotse Delchev, Bansko, Razlog, Simitli, Kresna, Strumyani and Sandanski.

Within the national park there are two nature reserves - Bayuvi Dupki - Djindjiritsa, which is one of the oldest reserves in Bulgaria, and Yulen Reserve. Bayuvi Dupki Reserve - Djindjiritsa is part of the network of biosphere reserves under the Man and the Biosphere Program of UNESCO.

In 1983, the park was declared one of the world's most important sites in Europe.

 

Hiking in Pirin National Park

Most developed part of the Pirin National Park is in the north around the highest peak of Vihren (2,915 m) that attracts hikers and climbers alike. There are two hiking paths that are most common with the tourists. One is marked by brown markers that takes from Mandrat base to the Sipanitsa Shelter. Another trail is marked by yellow markers that take goes from Mandrat base to the Black Water base. There is also a loop trail from Vihren hut to the top of mount Vihren, the highest mountain in Pirin National Park. It doesn't require any special mountaineering experience or equipment and takes about 3 to 4 hours. Additionally they are many other small trails that allow tourists to reach every corner of Pirin National Park, but these paths are often unmarked and have no clear direction. You can use them at your own risk.

 

This biologic reserve is easily accessible from Bansko, fairly large tourist city with hotels and restaurants. Other major cities in the area include Sandanki, Gotse Delchev, Kresna, Razlog, Strumuani, Simitli and many others. One of the major advantages of hiking and camping in the mountains of Bulgaria is little regulations that are in place and even less attempt to enforce them. Even if there is such a thing as ranger in Pirin National Park, which is doubtful they do not make their presence visible.

 

Name
When in ancient times the Slavs inhabited the mountain, they likened it to their god Perun, whence its present name.

Flora
The great diversity in terms of relief is the reason for the exceptional diversity of the plant world. Pirin Park is one of the most interesting botanical places in Bulgaria. The first information about the flora of the area where today's park is located is from the works of the botanist August Griesebach, who were written in the first half of the XIX century. This is the first written information in which the species of white fir is reported on the territory of the Balkan Peninsula. The main studies of the flora of Pirin were made in the late XIX century and early XX century.

About 1300 species of higher plants have been identified on the territory of Pirin National Park, which represents more than 30% of all higher plants found on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. In addition to these higher plants, more than 300 species of mosses and a large amount of algae have been found.

The national park is of particular interest with the large number of endemic species that can be seen here. 18 species of local endemics, 15 Bulgarian and many Balkan endemics have been identified. The local endemics of the national park are Pirin poppy, Pirin meadow, Urum and fur oxitropis, maple trap, Pirin thyme, David mullein, Pirin fescue and others. Of the Bulgarian endemics, the species Ferdinand Goose, Urum Krivets, Bulgarian Wind, Bone Fat, etc. are of interest. The Balkan endemics that are found here are several dozen. Such species are the white fir, the golden chandelier, the small-skinned carnation, the Balkan newt and others.

There is a large number of species protected by the Nature Protection Act or included in lists of protected or rare animals. A typical representative of these species, which is found in the park, is edelweiss, which over time has become a symbol of the Pirin Mountains. The total number of species protected by law is nearly 60, and the number of species present in the Red Book of Bulgaria - 126.

On the territory of Pirin National Park there are three plant belts - forest, subalpine and alpine. This is due to the relatively high altitude of the entire park.

Forest vegetation belt
The vegetation in the forest belt is composed of some of the most typical for Bulgaria coniferous forest species, such as white pine, black pine and fir. In the lower parts of the park, as well as in some places on the higher ones, there are beech trees, but unlike other places, here the beech does not build real forest massifs, but participates mainly as an impurity species in other forests.

Forests, composed mainly of fir, spruce and beech, cover mostly wetter areas, areas, as well as parts of the mountain slope, with more limited sunshine. White and black pine cover opposite regions, where the soil is drier and temperatures are higher. The best communities of white and black pine are located on the southern and eastern slopes of the mountain.

This plant belt is characterized by many different plant communities. In addition to the forest communities characteristic of this altitude, there are also meadows and rocks. This is mainly due to the diversity of the terrain, as well as some climatic features.

Subalpine plant belt
The vegetation in the subalpine vegetation belt largely resembles the corresponding vegetation in the Rila Mountains. Typical for this belt plants are mainly dwarf pine and Siberian juniper. Of interest to botany are the large number of grass species that are represented in the meadows located here. Large areas are covered with typical pasture vegetation, which is more typical of the higher alpine belt.

Also of interest are the communities made up of hooded, powerful fescue and others. These species are endemic and this is one of the places where information about them can be obtained. In the subalpine vegetation belt are located a large number of water basins - mostly lakes and small streams. This is a prerequisite for good development of algae. Around the water basins there are also representatives of the genus Oystercatcher.

Alpine plant belt
In the Pirin Mountains this belt is very well defined and is one of the most diverse in terms of vegetation for the whole country. As in the whole national park, many endemic species are found here. The largest areas are covered with grass vegetation and those with rock cover.

Fauna

The great diversity of the relief, as well as the fact that the mountain has a meridional orientation, is a prerequisite for a great diversity of the animal world. Another important prerequisite for this diversity is the fact that the mountain is located in the southern parts of Bulgaria. The national park preserves a huge number of animals, many of which are typical of much southern regions.

Invertebrates
About 2,090 species and subspecies of invertebrates have been identified, including nearly 300 rare species, 214 endemic species, 175 relict species, and 15 animals included in international lists of endangered species. The fauna of Pirin National Park is still being studied, and it is estimated that only half of all animals found here have been found in invertebrates.

Pirin National Park is one of the most important places for taxonomy development in Bulgaria. Of the endemic species found here, 39 are local endemics. It is important for these species that 100% of their population is limited to the mountains. This places these species in the category of animals of world importance. The Bulgarian endemics are 67 species, and the Balkan endemics - 123. The number of relict species is huge for this territory - 27 preglacial relics and 149 glacial relics.

Vertebrates
6 species of fish have been identified on the territory of Pirin National Park, which represents about 6% of all freshwater fish species that can be seen in Bulgaria. Of particular interest are the species of rainbow trout and gray trout, which are not typical for Europe. These species are mainly found in North America, and in the territory of the national park they are imported artificially by means of stocking material.

It is not certain that mountain mullet is found in the park, as this species has been observed more than once, but the information has not been confirmed. One of the species that inhabited the waters of the national park years ago - the common eel, is considered to be completely extinct in the park. It is included in the Red Book of Bulgaria in the category of missing.

From the classes of amphibians and reptiles in the national park there are a total of 19 species, of which 8 species are amphibians and 11 - reptiles. The relict species of amphibians and reptiles found here are the mountain water frog, the live-bearing lizard and the viper. The Macedonian lizard is a Balkan endemic.

There is a large number of birds that can be seen in the park - nearly 160. This is an extremely large number, as it represents about 40% of all bird species found in Bulgaria. There are relict species of owl, white-backed woodpecker and three-toed woodpecker. There is a large number of Balkan endemic bird species. Among them are the white-backed woodpecker, the Balkan lark, the alpine woodpecker, the hooded tit, the rock mason and others. Nearly 150 is the number of birds that are a segment of the main part of the park management plan. This is due to their conservation status.

Of the mammals, 45 species of terrestrial mammals have been identified, which represents nearly 50% of all terrestrial mammals found in the country. In addition, there are 12 species of bats, all bats are protected by the Nature Protection Act. Of particular interest is the snow vole, as it is a glacial relict species. The chamois, which is a Balkan endemic, is also of interest. 5 species of mammals are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria. The brown bear and chamois have been declared species in need of special protection measures.

A large number of vertebrates are defined as animals in need of special protection and conservation measures. The largest number of such animals is among birds. Some of these birds are the Lesser Spotted Eagle, the Lesser Eagle, the Bald Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, the Peregrine Falcon, the Capercaillie, the Mountain Shark, the Wood snipe, the Holly Dove, the White-backed Woodpecker, the Three-toed Woodpecker and others. The reason for the creation of special measures for the protection of certain species of animals is that the number of their populations in the park is gradually decreasing. 31 species of birds from those found here are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria.

Historical heritage

 

Pirin, as a small part of the former ancient Macedonia, preserves the traces of many ancient and majestic cultures - Thracian, ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian. Probably that is why the people in this area zealously preserve their Revival architectural, ethnographic, pictorial and folklore richness.
Part of the unique atmosphere of Bansko is due to the churches "Assumption" and "Holy Trinity", the houses and museums of Neofit Rilski and Nikola Vaptsarov.
Razlog is distinguished by many preserved ancient customs, such as the mummer's procession on January 1 and the folklore festival "Pirin sings".
The town of Melnik itself has been declared a historical and cultural monument. Some of its landmarks are the Kordopulova, Paskova and Byzantine houses, and 4 km from Melnik is the Rozhen Monastery.
Beneath today's town of Sandanski lie the remains of an ancient city. Spartacus originated from the Thracian tribe of Medes, who inhabited its surroundings.
Near Simitli is the church of St. Archangel Michael.

Management
In the past, the park was managed by various government organizations. Until 1998, the park was managed by the Central Forest Department. Later, after the adoption of the Protected Areas Act at the end of 1998, the management of the park became the task of the Ministry of Environment and Water. A directorate responsible for the park at the Ministry of Environment and Water has existed since the beginning of 1999. The main tasks of the Pirin National Park Directorate are the protection and management of the park. The seat of the formed directorate is in the town of Bansko. Later, the Park Directorate became directly subordinate to the National Parks Directorate.

The park is divided into several zones with different modes. The zones are:
Territories with a strict regime - these are the territories occupied by reserves. They represent over 15% of the entire territory of the national park.
Territories with temporary protection status. These areas are about 3% of the park area.
In the other territories, which are nearly 82% of the total area, human intervention is allowed. They include areas with tourist and protective functions.

To facilitate the management of the park, it is divided into the following park areas:
Vihren Park Area
Bezbog Park District
Bayuvi Dupki Park Area
Kamenica Park Area
Sinanitsa Park Area
Three Rivers Park Area

Park areas
Vihren Park Area
Vihren Park Area is the park area of ​​Pirin National Park with the most developed tourist network. This is due to the close proximity of the park area with the town of Bansko. The city itself has a highly developed tourism, which further contributes to the number of tourists in this park area. The main tourist attractions in the park area "Vihren" are the rivers Demyanitsa and Banderitsa and the lakes Vasilashki lakes, Tipitski lakes, Dalgoto, Ribnoto and other lakes, as well as various rock gates.

In this area is one of the largest natural landmarks of the national park - Baikushevata mura, which with its age of over 1300 years is one of the oldest trees in Bulgaria. Baikusheva fir is a type of black fir.

Within the park area "Vihren" is Vihren peak, which is the highest peak in the Pirin Mountains - 2914 meters. The peak attracts many tourists and climbers.