Nature park Shumensko plato: General information
From ancient times Shoumensko Plato (plateau) – impressive and beautiful – is part of the lives of local people. As a huge picturesque horseshoe it embraces the town of Shoumen and shelters in its gorges pretty little villages. Shoumensko Plato combines the beauty of nature and the culture and history of the region, which could be felt only in its bosoms, among the ruins of fortresses and ancient villages, in the quietness of the cliff monasteries and beneath the granite lion on the top of the plateau.
Intoxicating with its vitality, providing shelter and security, the nature here has attracted people since ancient times.
In order to be protected and preserved the unique character, resources and diversity 3895, 8 ha were declared a protected territory in 1980 – Nature Park Shoumensko Plato.
Shoumensko plateau is the most typical and highest plateau in Northern Bulgaria. Its average altitude is 350 meters and its highest peak is 502 meters. The ridge is plain and the slopes are steep, at some places there are gorges, which the local people call “boazi”. During the centuries the sun and the water have sculptured unique forms at the surface and underground – whirlpools, pot-holes caves etc. There are about 60 registered caves on the plateau. The most attractive among them is called Biserna. It is situated at two levels and the length of the galleries is about 3000 meters. The cave is remarkable for its karst formations. On the plateau itself there are no permanent surface waters but at its foot there are many karst springs.
Forests cover more than 90 % of the park’s area. Most of them are mixed broad-leaved forests, in which prevails the oriental hornbeam. There are also hornbeam, beech, Turkey oak, common maple, ash, silver lime, Oriental beech, etc. Aiming at preservation of the population of Oriental beech the Reserve Bukaka was declared a protected territory in 1980 covering an area of 62,6 ha.
The grass in the thick and shadowy mixed forests is scarce. Species with spring blossom – snowdrop, crocus, squill, cyclamen etc – prevail. The open places in the park are like colourful mosaic of grass and bushes. Many of them are precious for the people because of their healing, decorative or aromatic qualities. Typical for the park are some plants that grow on the rocks and some representatives of the steppe flora.
There are more than 550 species of high plants and above 109 species of vertebrates.
The plateau is home to many protected plants registered in the Red Book of Bulgaria.
Among the inhabitants of the park there are 28 mammal species, 61 bird species, 14 reptile species and 6 amphibian species. From the mammals there can be seen red deer, deer, wild boar and some rare species – black woodpecker, collared flycatcher and sombre tit. Protected species, included in the Red Book are Aesculapian snake, Egypt vulture, eagle-owl, honey buzzard, marbled polecat, etc.
The strategic situation of the plateau in the east side of the Danube valley defines its significant role in the history of the country. Naturally fortified and protected, it was inhabited in the remote past. Many of the caves served as dwellings for the people in the stone-copper epoch. Remnants of some Thracian villages have been discovered dating back to 4 – 2 century B.C. On the slopes of the plateau have been preserved cliff monasteries, churches and monk cells. They were connected with the religious and cultural life during the Second Bulgarian kingdom. The most significant historic and archeological site at the territory of the park is the Shoumen fortress (the “Old city”), which survived nearly 3000 years.
The Nature Park Shoumesnko plato is an atttractive place for recreation, sport and tourism during the whole year. It has well developed infrastructure and numerous tourist trails which cross the park and lead to interesting and attractive nature formations, historic monuments, rock phenomena and tourist hostels. There are tourists’ shelters in the park and at places with panorama view there are alcoves, benches, tables and fountains which facilitate the recreation of the visitors.