Pirin National Park (World Heritage)
According to softwareleverage, the 40,000 hectare Pirin National Park is located in the extreme southwest of Bulgaria in the mountains of the same name. Its highest elevation is the Wichren with 2915 m. In the high mountain areas there are many alpine animal and plant species that are threatened with extinction. Initially only 27,000 hectares were placed under protection by UNESCO, but in 2010 the area was expanded to include the entire national park.
Pirin National Park: facts
|Official title:||Pirin National Park|
|Natural monument:||Established in the northern part of the Pirin Mountains in 1963 Vichren National Park, after expansion in 1976 renamed the Pirin National Park, further expansion in 1987, within the national park since 1979 the Baevi Doupki-Djindjiritza nature reserve, total area of 400.6 km²; Heights of up to 2915 m (Vichren), limestone formations interspersed in granite and slate, over 70 glacial lakes; in 2010 expansion to include another high mountain area|
|Location:||in the Pirin Mountains in southwestern Bulgaria|
|Appointment:||1983, extended in 2010|
|Meaning:||a relic of the European ice age and very rich flora of a limestone landscape|
|Flora and fauna:||Mixed coniferous forest with Rumelian pine only found here, also with Austrian black pine, Scots pine, Norway spruce, silver fir and red beech; subalpine zones with Siberian juniper, alpine mats above 2400 m; 20% of all plants included on the »Red List« of Bulgaria can be found in the national park; Wildlife with brown bear, gray wolf, badger, wild cat, otter, tree and stone marten and European polecat; Birds such as golden eagles, eagle owls, black and three-toed woodpeckers|
An Eldorado for experienced hikers
“Orbelus” – “icy mountains” – was what the Thracians called today’s Pirin Mountains. Slavic mythology spoke of a god called “Perun” who lived on the top of the highest mountain, made himself heard with thunder and lightning, and ruled the mountainous region. 45 peaks stretch up to 2600 meters; seven even reach a height of more than 2800 meters. Bluish ice caps and remains of snow linger on these highest peaks of the Pirin until late summer. Given these mighty rocks, it is hardly surprising that the former residents of Bulgaria viewed this region with some awe.
The inaccessible pyramid-shaped and cone-shaped peaks made of marble and granite have an alpine relief, which today especially attracts experienced hikers and mountaineers. But the less daring vacationer can also explore the national park; be it from the health resort of Sandanski, the warmest city in Bulgaria, which was already a well-known health resort among Thracians and Romans, or from the northern foot of the mountains of Bansko. This place, with its numerous listed houses a gem itself, is particularly suitable as a starting point for hikes during the summer months. In the meantime, Bansko has developed into the largest winter sports center in the country, where ski world cup races are also held, which allows the modern “conquest” of the Pirin with cross-country trails and slopes of varying difficulty between November and May. Several dozen rock faces and summit routes have been approved for climbing for alpinists, including the Vichren with its wall that is certainly difficult to conquer. The rock rises majestically at 2915 meters – the highest point in the national park. When the weather is clear, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Aegean Sea from up here. However, the development and expansion of the ski area there was approved in disregard of serious ecological concerns and in 2011 led to numerous protests by environmentalists. including the Vichren with its wall, which is certainly difficult to conquer. The rock rises majestically at 2915 meters – the highest point in the national park. When the weather is clear, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Aegean Sea from up here. However, the development and expansion of the ski area there was approved in disregard of serious ecological concerns and in 2011 led to numerous protests by environmentalists.
The glaciers that once covered the mountains have carved imaginative shapes out of the rock. Sometimes you even think you are facing petrified pixies and fairies. The numerous smaller and larger glacial lakes that can be found at the bottom of the numerous valleys, including Lake Popovo, which is up to 30 meters deep, and Lake Gorno-Poleshansko at 2715 meters, are part of the legacy of this glorious ice splendor. During the melting of the snow, the lakes swell and feed numerous rivers and streams, some of them raging, which flow into two rivers that border the national park, Struma and Mesta. Sometimes the hiker has picturesque views of rushing waterfalls far away from any civilization.
The diverse forest vegetation spreads out in three distinct belts: the foothills zone up to a height of 1400 meters consists mainly of beech and fir forests, the low mountain zone (1400-1800 meters) is determined by tall firs and spruces, while the high mountain zone (up to 2200 meters) is covered by pines, spruces and pines. In the nature reserve Bajuvi Dupki, which is part of the national park, the extremely rare, up to 300 year old Austrian black pines grow in cracks in the rock. Individual specimens that reach a height of up to 45 meters can even proudly be over 500 years old. In other parts, small groves with 250 to 300 year old Rumelian pines have been preserved, the trunk of which can reach a diameter of over two meters.
In the heights of the Pirin, groups of chamois romp around in the “rock garden”, which, like golden eagles, wall creepers, kestrels and chicks, hardly ever get to see visitors. In addition, very few are lucky enough to be able to observe “Meister Petz” from a distance. Even nimble polecats and stone marten rarely cross the paths of mountain hikers.