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Vitosha National Park

Vitosha National Park

Vitosha National Park is covering much of the Vitosha mountain that overshadows the Bulgarian capital of Sofia below.

 

 

Location: Sofia Province Map

Park map

Area: 27 079 hectares

Directorate of the Vitosha National Park:

1303 Sofia City, Vazrazhdane residential section

Tel. 359 2 98 5841

359 2 989 53 77

Email: dppvitosha@dag.bg

 

 

 

 

Description of Vitosha National Park

 

Vitosha National Park a nature reserve that covers most of Vitosha mountain that towers over Bulgarian capital of Sofia. First trails through the Vitosha mountain were made in the 19th century by private organizations and their volunteers. On 27 October 1934 Vitosha National Park was officially established and thus making it is the oldest park in Bulgaria and on the Balkan Peninsula. Today it covers an area of 27 079 hectares. In addition to Vitosha National Park, parts of Vitosha mountain are also protected by Bistrishko Branishte (Bistritsa Forest Reserve) on the North- East slope of Golyam Rezen Peak (2,277 meters above sea level) and Skoparnik Peak (2,226 meters above sea level) and reservation Torfeno Branishte (Turf Forest Reserve). Bistrishko Branishte is of particular value. It was established to protect virgin broad- leaved forests and in 1977 it was declared a biosphere reservation by the UNESCO.

 

Some of the most prominent destinations on Vitosha mount include Boyana waterfall, which is the highest in the park, Samokovishteto waterfall on the river Bistrica, declared a natural landmark. Additionally Vitosha contains the Duhlata Cave near a village of Bosnek on the left bank of the Struma river. Its natural underground tunnels stretch for 18 km thus making it one of the longest cave systems in Bulgaria.

 

Vitosha National Park is a favorite place for tourism among international and domestic tourists alike. During summer months a network of hiking trails allow visitors to venture in all areas of Vitosha National Park. In Winter Vitosha mountains is open for skiing and snowboarding. Aleko chizha (mountain inn) which offers ski and snowboard rental is located in the extensive ski resort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vitosha National Park is located just miles from a Bulgarian capital of Sofia it is easily accessed by public transport. Most popular starting points for hiking are villages of Zheleznitsa and Bistritsa or Northern suburbs of Sofia, Dragalevtsi, Simeonovo and Boyana. Unlike other protected reserve mount Vitosha is doted by more than 40 lodges and small hotels as well as several shelters. Some of the larger hospital on mount Vitosha include Aleko (named after Aleko Konstantinov) located in the area Aleko on a Black Peak, Kupena hut (Academic) at Mount Golam Kupen, hotel Kamen northwest of Mount Kamen Del, Hotel Bor North of Mount Cherna Skala (Black Rock), hut Selimitsa west of Mount Selimitsa and many others. Additionally you might be interested in visiting ruins of hotel Fonfon. It was constructed in the 20th century to house people who are deaf. Unfortunately an accidental gas explosion destroyed much of its structure. Today only ruins of the former beautiful building are hidden in the vast forest of Vitosha.

 

Some of lodges on Vitosha National Park offer room for overnight stay, while others serve food and drinks for tourists. Soups like Bob Chorba (bean soup) or Shopska salada (type of salad) are worth a try. Shkembe chorba is probably the best soup you will try on Vitosha or anywhere in Bulgaria. It is made of lamb intestines, but despite it is worth a try. It tastes much better than it sounds.

 

Tourist routes on Vitosha National Park are numerous. You might spend weeks hiking on Vitosha and still won't see most of them. However some of the more popular routes include trailes between Dragalevci to Aleko hut and Black Peak (marked with red paint). Zheleznitsa village to Black Peak (marked with blue paint), two trails from Bistritsa to Aleko hut (marked with gree paint), from Knyajevo to Golden Bridges (marked with yellow paint) and Black Peak to Bukapreslapski passage (marked with red paint).

 

Vitosha Mountain is famous for many features, however its stone rivers also known as moraines are of particular interest. These natural formations track the movement of former glaciers that broke the cliffs of Vitosha mountain into smaller boulders. These rocks range from a size of a football to a size of compact car. Particularly famous moraines are those found at the Zlatni Mostove or Golden Bridges located at an elevation of 1,390 meters above sea level. It gets its name from bright golden lichens that grow on boulders making it appear as golden.

 

In addition to natural beauty Vitosha National Park contains several historic sights. One of the most popular and most visited is the Dragalevsky Monastery of Saint Mary of Vitosha. First monastic community of Eastern Orthodox monks settled this desolate are in the 14th century. Over time it grew in size and complexity. Another less impressive, but notable Orthodox Kladnishki Monastery of Saint Nikolas Miliyski the Miracle Maker was established in the 19th century. The Boyana Church of Saint Nikolas (wonder worker and one of inspirations for Santa Claus) and Saint Panteleymon (protector of doctors and medical workers) date back to the 10th century. It is located within borders of Vitosha National Park and is included in the UNESCO List of Global Cultural Inheritance.

 

Fauna

Vitosha Mountain is full of diverse ecosystem. While some animals are beautiful and impressive, some can be quiet dangerous. Keep this in mind when you decide to hike through the wildnerness. Mammals that live on Vitosha Mountain include red deerm, roe deer, fox, otter, wild cat, shrews, common hare and many others. Some of the more dangerous animals include wild boar, brown bear and several packs of wolves. Although these animals are quiet frequent in Vitosha National Park region, most will run away from a human voice or sound of a metal.

 

Venomous snakes (vipers) is probably the main reason why you should not venture away from well marked trails. They are small and hard to detect. Black salamander with yellow spots are fairly common in the area, but avoid these as well. They are not dangerous to humans, but they are extremely fragile. Human touch can easily damage their internal organs causing quick death. Vitosha National Park is one of the few places that keeps a significant amount of these beautiful amphibians. They are endangered in Europe mostly due to human activity and destruction of their natural habitat.

 

 

 

 

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