Bulgaria is mainly associated with the beautiful sandy beaches and the sea. However, it can offer much more to its visitors. With an area of about 111,000 square km, it has a great variety of terrains, landscapes and climate, a diversity that is hard to see in other countries around the world. This is also represented in the mountain ranges - each of them has its own characteristics, a unique combination of relief, landscapes, climate, nature and local culture. That is why the mountains in Bulgaria are considered to be extremely rich in the country. There are as many as 39 mountains in its territory, accounting for 30% of its area.
The mountains occupy most of the southern and western parts of Bulgaria and are extremely beautiful with their nature and tranquility. Many believe that the true spirit of the Bulgarian people can only be felt in the mountains.
The Bulgarian mountains are relatively young. Most belong to the Balkanida geological massif, which is part of the Alps-Himalayan mountain range. The latter is considered to be the youngest formed on earth in the last 145 million years, with the formation process completed about 2 million years ago. But the Balkanides are not the only separate geological structure that determines the relief of Bulgaria. To these are added the Kraishtide and the Macedonian-Thracian mountain range.
Rila is the highest mountain range on the whole Balkan Peninsula. It is located in the southwestern part of Bulgaria. The capital city of Sofia is about 50 kilometers in a straight line. Over 90 peaks in Rila exceed 2000 m above sea level, while 7 peaks above 2500 m above sea level. One of them is Musala, the highest peak of the Rila Mountains, and also the highest in the country and in the Balkans - with an altitude of 2925 m. Majestic, granite ridges and ice circuses, many beautiful streams and over 150 deep glacial lakes with azure water, ancient forest thickets and high meadows - wildlife is a habitat of rare fauna and flora, so in Rila two biosphere reserves have been created under the auspices. of UNESCO. It is here that the springs of some of the largest and deepest Bulgarian rivers are located: Iskar, Maritza and Mesta.
The easternmost part is the highest in the Rila Massif and this is where Musala Peak is located. Borovets - the oldest ski resort in Bulgaria - is located in this part. In the central part of the mountain range you can see many glacial lakes. The largest of these is Stinky Lake - it is also the largest glacial lake of this type on the entire Balkan Peninsula. The tourist attractions of the northwestern part of Rila include the Seven Rila Lakes. According to many people, these are the most beautiful lakes throughout Bulgaria - they enjoy their beauty and grandeur. The water that flows between them creates fascinating small fountains and waterfalls. In the southwestern part of the mountain range is the oldest biosphere reserve Parangalitsa with its 200-year-old spruce forest. Here is also one of the most important national symbols of the Bulgarians, marking their resistance to Turkish slavery - the Rila Monastery. It is a monumental monument of Bulgarian culture and is one of the most valuable monuments of religious architecture in Bulgaria.
Pirin is the second highest mountain in Bulgaria. According to some, the name Pirin comes from the Slavic god Perun, the supreme ruler, god of storms, thunder and lightning. Another version is that the etymology of the word comes from the Thracian word "perintos", which means "Rocky Mountain". Located in the southwestern part of Bulgaria, near the Greek border, the mountain range is inspired by its unspoiled nature, where high peaks and green valleys with glacial lakes, powerful coniferous trees and an unusual variety of flora make this area an excellent shelter for many species of animals. The diversity of the plant world with such endemic species as Bulgarian fir and rare and protected edelweiss is the reason most of the mountain is under protection. Here are some of the most beautiful lakes in Bulgaria.
The northern and central parts of the chain, very "alpine" in expression, are often visited for hikes, and the tourist base with shelters is a great support for this type of tourism. The Gate to the Massif is one of the most famous ski resorts in the country, Bansko, whose lifts and slopes reach 2600 m asl. The highest peak of Pirin is Vihren (2914 m asl), i. peak of winds. No wonder that besides skiers, the mountains attract paragliders.
Stara Planina (also known as the Balkans) is the main mountain range that divides Bulgaria into the north and the south. Its highest peak is Botev (2376 m asl) and extends from west to the Black Sea. Granites, gneisses and limestones form a mixture of rocks that are unique and it is difficult to recognize their charm and beauty. Sometimes harsh and inaccessible and sometimes just inviting you to take the marked (or not) routes. On foot, and increasingly with a bike or running. One of the three national parks in Bulgaria, Central Balkan National Park, is located in the central parts of the Balkan Mountains.
The unique Kom-Emine route, which is the longest marked hiking trail in Bulgaria with a length of about 650 km, also goes along the ridge of the Balkan Mountains. The end points of the route are Kom peak to the west, close to the border with Serbia, and Cape Emine to the Black Sea, the easternmost point of the Balkan Range. Its route coincides with the final leg of the European tourist route E3, which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Black Sea. Every summer, hundreds of enthusiasts embark on this epic walking journey to "reach the sea on foot." It takes 17 to 25 days to reach the sea and is considered a type of pilgrimage to the mountains.
Stara Planina is known for the hardest time among the mountains in the country. This is determined by its role as a natural barrier between the cold continental climate in the north and the milder climate of southern Bulgaria, touched by Mediterranean air masses. The result is strong winds, storms and rainfall in summer and snowstorms in winter.
The Rhodopes are the largest mountain range in the country. They are considered the most picturesque mountain in Bulgaria, as well as the most mystical. Not very high, mainly a limestone mountain that "crosses" the border with Greece, with slopes covered with forests, but also intended for viticulture and tobacco production. The karst phenomena found there favor the extraordinary beauty of the landscape. Unusual rock formations, ravines and caves attract tourists. Mineral springs are also an attraction in this region. The highest peak of the mountain, Golyam Perelik (2191 m), cannot be reached as there is a military base at the top.
One of the greatest treasures of the Rhodope Mountains is the people who live there. Extremely interesting for communication, as many traditions and customs can still be seen there. Pamporovo is one of the most famous winter resorts in Southeastern Europe. It is worth visiting the Devil's Throat Cave, connected with the legends of Orpheus and Eurydice, and the Yagodinska Cave, the Wonderful Bridges, the Trigrad Gorge and the Eagle Eye, the Thracian sanctuaries Belintash and Perperikon, the stone mushrooms and the Devil's Gelak, the village of Gela.
Only a small part of the Strandja mountain range is located on the territory of Bulgaria, the majority remains on the Turkish side. The low, sunny hills, between which rivers wind in the valleys, look especially beautiful in spring and autumn. Strandja is sparsely populated and therefore retains its natural character and specific folklore. Strandja Nature Park was established in this area in 1995 in the Bulgarian part of the massif and it is the largest protected area in Bulgaria, covering 1161 km2, or about 1% of the total territory of Bulgaria, protecting unique fauna species. and flora. The climate of the area is significantly influenced by the Black Sea.
Strandja is an area with a high concentration of ruins of Thracian sanctuaries and sacrificial altars, dolmens and other archeological objects. As part of Bulgarian culture and history, the mountain has a number of interesting phenomena that are worth seeing, including the ritual known as nesting - barefoot dancing on a ember, which is included in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.
Bulgaria is blessed with beautiful scenery and incredible mountains. There are hundreds of places you can visit. In order to experience the true magic of Bulgaria, you must visit its mountains. Each of them will take you on a journey in the depths of nature and will fill you with energy and unforgettable emotions.