Nature park Sinite kamani: General information
In the Balkans, above the town of Sliven, over an area of 7094.1 hectares is situated the marvelous Nature Park Sinite kamani (Blue Stones) – bluish-grey to violet rock cliffs mounting to more than 1000 meters above the sea level – the peaks Big and Small Chitalka, Kutelka, Bulgarka (the highest peak in the East Balkans – 1181 m) covered with beech forests, the lake in Karandila, the rock phenomena Kuminite (Chimneys), Kuklite (Dolls), Rakavichkata (Glove) – marvels which only the nature can create.
This beautiful Balkan region has an enormous cultural and historic heritage. The research shows that in the park were situated settlements of the Thracian and Illyrian tribes from the stone ages. In the regions Hisralaka, Daula, Dzendema, Djuleva reka, Mollova kurija can be seen ruins of walls and coverings from the fortress Tuida, the settlements Marichino and Marinino, healing springs and ancient roads. The foundations of churches and monasteries, called Slivenska malka sveta gora (small Holy wood), built in thirteenth – fourteenth century, were preserved during the years.
The haiduti movement (liberation movement during the Turkish yoke) is interrelated with the region – there is hardly a gorge, spring or a spot which do not invoke memories for certain events in the life of the brave voivodi (folk leaders) Hadhji Dimitar, Panaiot Hitov, Georgi Trankin, Stoil voivoda, the Apostle of liberty Vassil Levski.
On the territory of the park along the rivers Asenovska, Manastirska and Novoselska there still exist and function 20 plashes, which are part of the built in the XVIII-XIX century system of splashes, fulling-mills and mills. In the gorge of Selishka river is situated the first broadcloth factory in Bulgaria built by Dobri Zeljazkov in 1834.
Many traditional holidays and rites are related with the mountain, for example – Todorovden – the holiday of the horses, called also “Horses’ Easter”, Enjovden – on this day traditionally the local people pick herbs at sunrise, Preobrazenie – the day when traditionally all religious people dip into the healing water of Kushbunar spring. Very interesting are the singing competitions which are organized in the village of Albanovo and the annual summit of karakachans (an ethnic group in Bulgaria) which take place in the region of Karandila.
The Nature Park Sinite Kamani is famous for its nature landmarks. “Halkata” (the Ring) – the arc-shaped stone garland, possessing, according to the legends, magic force – is one of the symbols of the town of Sliven. The forms that the nature has sculptured in the cave Zmeevi dupki (Dragon’s holes) – Zmejat (the Dragon), Orelat (the Eagle) and Vladishkija tron (the Bishop’s throne) are amazing. The ancient beech forest in the vicinity of the Kushbunar spring in the region of Karandila is quite picturesque.
The specific climate and lay conditions of the nature park determine the great diversity of flora and fauna. The plant species are more than 1000, about 900 of which are representative of high species. 27 of the high species are registered in the Red Book of Bulgaria, the endemic species are 48 and the tertiary relict species are 2. The invertebrate animals are represented by 235 species – eight species of fish, nine species of amphibians, nineteen species of reptiles, 165 species of birds and 34 species of mammals. The lay is of typical mountain type – steep and ravine slopes and at sea level between 290 and 1181 meters above the sea level. The north and northwest winds, the wind called “bora”, famous also as “the wind of the town of Sliven” and the night breeze are typical for the region. Through the park flow many rivers and their beds form numerous shoots, pools and waterfalls.
The forests in the region comprise of oriental beech, hornbeam and pubescens oak. Widely distributed are the hazel, smoke-tree, barberry, and juniper. On the cliff rocks and in the valleys, in the forests and bushes can be seen protected species – Fritillaria graeca, Fritillatia pontica, balcan noontide, davidov meadow-saffron, wood anemone, soldier orchid, haleri pasque flower, urumow tulip, arabic stone-cress.
In the region of the park could be seen rabbits, deer and wild cats. In the oak forests lives the biggest bug in Bulgaria – stag beetle and also the beautiful beetle part of the long horns family – Rosalia alpina. Bats inhabit the caves and in the forests and over the cliff rocks fly numerous birds. The most striking ones are the day and night birds of prey – golden eagle, Egyptian vulture, goshawk, sparrow hawk, Hobby, long-legged buzzard, rough -legged buzzard, red-footed falcon and eagle owl.