Nature park Vitosha: Global information
“Sofia and Vitosha are inseparable like Naples and Vesuvius”. The description belongs to the Vienna scientist Hohshteter, who visited Bulgaria in 19th century. Even today it reflects the connection between the million city and the mountain. Vitosha is a real bliss for the citizens who enjoy the mountain during all seasons.
Vitosha is the first park in Bulgaria and on the Balkan Peninsula and is among the first ones in Europe as well. The park was declared as such in 1934 with a total area of 6 410 hectares. During the years the territory has been changed many times and today it is 26 606 hectares, which is over 90% of the total mountain.
The environmental restrictions after 1934 limit the unfavourable human impact on the mountain. The two reserves within the park’s territory – Bistrishko branishte and Torfeno branishte – are protected by the law. They have been established to preserve in their original state the coniferous forests, the alpine grass vegetation and the most considerable for Bulgaria complex of alpine peat which thickness reaches up to 2 metres. The Reserve Bistrishko branishte has been proclaimed by UNESCO for a biospheric one and is part of the world network of biospheric reserves.
Fifty two plants which can be found in the park are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria. The mountain lily (Lilium jancae) which is included in Annex 1 of the Bern Convention has one of the biggest populaces in Vitosha. Some of the rarely found plants in the world can be seen in Vitosha – the Macedonian Pine, Transilvanian campanula and Luzula deflexa. There are about 30 types of orchids.
Up to now there are 326 species and varieties of mosses, 500 species of algae and 360 species of lichens known in Vitosha. Only in Bistrishko branishte there are 99 types of mosses. There are 9 species of mosses, representatives of the group Sphagnum, which form the peat and are characteristic for the Reserve Torfeno branishte.
Ten species of amphibians (3 tailed species and 7 species of frogs) and 12 species of reptiles (6 species of lizards and 6 species of snakes) have been identified in the park. Among the most endangered ones are the viper, the mountain lizard, the salamander, the blindworm and etc. Especially important for the reptiles of Vitosha are the Bosneshki karst and the three wet zones: the Boyana lake, the marsh areas north of the village of Yarlovo and the group of springs in the peat between the chalet Aleko and Kamen Del peak.
236 species of birds are known in Vitosha, 120 of them nest there. Recently, on the territory of the park can be seen some rare or endangered species: goshawk, black stork, eagle owl, golden eagle, etc.
The bat fauna is most diversified in the Bosneshki karst region. Ten out of the 13 known species in Vitosha can be found there. Near to the village of Bosnek is the longest cave in Bulgaria – Duhlata – with length of 17,5 km.
Despite the massive extermination during the 20-ies in the last century, the bear populace has been partially restored and there are 9 bears at the moment. In Vitosha can be seen all predatory and wild hoofed animals characteristic for the Bulgarian mountains: wolves, foxes, martens, deer, does, etc. The lynx and the wild goat disappeared from the mountain fauna in the beginning of the last century.
The stone screes and the stone rivers are unique for Vitosha. The biggest such area is the Zlatnite mostove (Golden bridges).
There are ten peaks in Vitosha which are over 2000 m, the highest of them being peak Cherni vruh (Black peak) which is 2290m high and is positioned in the centre of the mountain. Each of the four mountain parts of Vitosha starts from it.
The biggest fall in Vitosha is Boyana fall – the water falls from 40 m. It is situated at 1300 m in the valley of Boyana river.
Out of the 40 monasteries, which existed in the Middle Ages, only two have survived. The Dragalevski monastery “Uspenie Bogorodichno” ( XIV century) was an important cultural centre in the Sofia region, and its frescoes are of very high artistic value. In 1995 the monastery and the church were declared for cultural monuments of national significance.
The Kladniski monastery “St. Nicola” is part of the famous group of Vitosha Sveta gora. In the Middle Ages above the monastery there was an ancient town surrounded by walls and towers. It is declared for a cultural monument of national significance. In an ancient park, against the background of huge trees, can be found the Boyana church “St. Panteleimon”. It is one of the few preserved medieval monuments of the Bulgarian spirit, an exceptional example of the medieval Bulgarian architecture and iconography. As a landmark of world significance, the Boyana church has been declared as a site of World cultural heritage of UNESCO.