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Nature Park "Vitosha"

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.

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 2290 m high and is positioned in the centre of the mountain. Each of the four mountain parts of Vitosha starts from it.

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.

Fauna: The diversity of animal life is rich and many invertebrates and vertebrates can be found on Vitosha. This includes many species of butterflies, 40 species of ants, 10 species of amphibians, 14 species of reptiles, over 200 species of birds including about 120 nesting bird species, and 49 kinds of mammals.

In Nature park Vitosha at least 148 endemic invertebrate species and over 300 rear species of invertebrates are found.

Despite the proximity of a city of more than one million people, the park still maintains the conditions necessary to allow large predators such as the wolf and the bear to exist, although these species were exterminated they have been able to re-colonize the mountain in small numbers and may occasionally be encountered. It is not unusual to observe red deer, roe deer, fallow deer, wild boar, as well as mouflon, fox, badger, wild cat, hedgehog, red squirrel, beech marten, pine marten, stone marten, hare, fat doormouse, otter, weasel, and marbled polecat.

The up to results from the research help to obtain an imagination for the structure, compositions and stretch differentiation of the habitats of small mammals in Vitosha. The main determine factors of the area differentiation are: is this a location of forest or open place; and a presence or absence of water areas. The sea level height plays a small role. The permanent and equable humidity of Vitosha climate helps to the low stretch differentiation of the habitats of small mammals here. Their density is highest in the moisture areas beach forests.

Cultural heritage: Within the park territory and other neighboring territories there is a lot of historical and cultural sightseeing as the most important ones are the monuments of Christian architecture.

The church of Boyana is an unique monument of Bulgarian spirit and it is considered to be a part of world`s cultural and natural inheritance (UNESCO). The complex consists of several parts the old church was built before XI and XII century. In 1259 a new two-floor church was stick to it and it was connected perfectly with the first one in architectural aspect. The wall-paintings of the church of Boyana are dated from three different epochs XI, XII and XIV-XV century. The church of Boyana is also famous in Bulgaria and abroad for its highly appraised artistic wall-paintings from 1259, made by the order of sebastocrator Kaloyan, that generally follow the decorative system and iconography of Vistantian art from XI-XII century. The portraits of king Konstantin Asen /1257-77/ and queen Irina, as well as the portraits of sebastocrator Kaloyan and his wife Desislava painted at the entrance, are of a great importance and special interest as they are a work of art with historical-documentary significance. They are considered to be a renaissance phenomenon with their strong realism during the culmination phase of the European art. They take one of the first positions among all works of the European middle-aged art of painting in XIII century.

The church is not an isolated phenomenon but it is connected with a number of monuments that are demolished mainly by the Ottoman conquerors. Its fate is inextricably bound up with the settlement of Boyana.

In the middle ages the period of first Bulgaria kingdom, there were built 35 fortresses and settlements. The protected region that spreads over the northern and western consolidated slopes of Vitosha included two basic fortresses Sredets and Pernik. There was a connection between them that passed through Momina skala a main part of the fortress of Boyana.

Sredets was a very important military and administrative region and it had a considerable communicative significance. There were three concentric rings, made by fortress walls, around the town situated in the field. The first one included the fortifications on Vitosha`s slopes. The scarce archeological data cannot give the opportunity for the fortress scheme resuming. The remains show that the church of Boyana was disposed within the consolidated settlement that had highly mounted watch-towers. They guarded the road, between the slopes of Vitosha and Lulin mountains, that was the south entrance of Sofia.

Dragalevski monastery "Uspenie bogorodichno" , being called "king`s cloister", was founded by king Ivan Alexander (1331-1371). It had the mercy on the ottoman invader during Sofia`s conquest in 1385. During the second half of XV century (1476) it was repaired by Sofia`s leader Radoslav Mavar. This church-donor repaired the old church himself and ornamented its inside with paintings. During the new repair of the church the wall paintings from XV century were covered with new ones form XVII century, almost repeating the subject-matter of the old one, but having different style and scale. It was filled with the best wall-painting traditions during that period. In XVIII century, the north facade of the church was painted. Amongst the numerous standing saints, one can see the image of saint Ivan Rilski. About the end of XVIII century, the iconostasis of the cathedral was renewed. Its wood-carved ornamented knotworks were gold-plated. One of the biggest icons "Jesus Christ Pantocrator" dated from 1792. During the same time it was made the wood-carved "vladishki" throne. There are icons dated from the 1818 that are now kept in the church.

During the ages, Dragalevsky monastery was a very important booking centre. In 1612 Yov Shishatovats gramatik wrote the famous "Boyanski pomenik".

"St. Teodor Stratilat" church in the village of Bosnek is situated in the centre of the village. It was built in 1866. The masonry was stone-made, plastered up. The narthex is extended and bound up with the church. It was painted in 1867 but there is no signature of the icon-painter. It is supposed that he was a man from the region of Samokov.

"St. Nikolay Mirikliiski" monastery in the village of Kladnitsa is situated in the eastern part. The church is disposed within the monastery`s yard. It is rebuilt above old foundations in 1841. It is built by stone, plastered up and images and paintings were built-in. Its dimensions are: 11x5 m. There is one saint throne. The wall-paintings date 1883 as some of them are signed by the icon-painter Kosto Antikarov Samokovski. The icon "St. Bogoroditsa" is the only one that has an inscription from 1841 when the church was built. It was consecrated by Partenii Valenskii bishop. Spas Burnov church-donor was murdered in the church. Within the church`s yard, his grave can be found.

Tourism: The beginning of pedestrian tourism, alpinism, ski-sports, tourist orientation and tourist marking in Bulgaria is bound up with Vitosha mountain.
The organized tourism in Bulgaria began on 27 August 1895 when the writer Aleko Konstantinov made 300 tourists climb up on Cherny Vrah peak. On 23 July 1899, 27 participants in that initiative founded the first tourist club in Bulgaria and named it Shtaslivetsa (The happy man) as this is considered to be the beginning of tourist movement in Bulgaria.

Because of the wars at the beginning of the century, the creation of a necessary infrastructure for tourism, started in 1924 with the first "Aleko" chalet opening at Vitosha. In the next twenty years, there were built and opened a dozen of chalets. These are the chalets "Edelvais", "Kumata", "Selimitsa", "Kamen del", "Tintyava", "Fonfon", "Planinets", "Bor", "Sredets", "Momina skala" and some other rest-houses.

In 1924 it was announced in some tourist prints that Vitosha tourists and mountain people started alpinism exercising. There were pictures enclosed, showing the people during climbing up.

In August 1954, 28 instructors and tourists functionaries met at Aleko chalet in order to write for two days the first tourist orientation contest regulations.

The first tourist marking in Bulgaria was laid down in 1901 near Dragalevsky monastery. In July 1992, the European route E-4 (Pyrenees- Alpine -Rila-Pelopones) was opened as it started from Cherny Vrah peak through Verila mountain, Rila mountain, Pirin mountain to the village of Petrovo at the border with Greece.

Vitosha`s nearness to Sofia made it the most attended mountain in Bulgaria. At the beginning of the 90s the attendance of the park reached 1 200 000 people per year. Aiming to improve the services for the bigger tourist flow, a lot of tourists routes were made. All these routes and tourist paths were marked with guiding inscriptions. There were mounted metal posts on the opened areas of the mountain.
One can find the main access ways to Vitosha in the villages of Kladnitsa, Vladaya, Knyazhevo, Boyana, Dragalevtsi, Simeonovo, Bistritsa, Zheleznitsa.

Two main roads lead the visitors with public or own transport to Vitosha Mountain. The first one connects Boyana settlement with Zlatnite mostove bridges and it is 9,5 km long. The second one connects Dragalevtsi housing complex with Aleko chalet and it is long 14 km.
There are lifts built at three initial-terminal points built in the mountain.
The cabin lift "Knyazhevo Kopitoto" climbs up to the height of 604 m.
It is 1980 m long and its capacity is 600 people per hour. It is out of order at present because of technical failure.
The two-stage and two-seat-cabin lift "Dragalevtsi - Bai Krastyo - Goli Vrah" is 3475 m long. It is constructed to surmount the height of 893 m and its capacity is respectively 300 and 600 people per hour.
The cabin lift "Simeonovo Aleko chalet" can surmount the height of 1076 m, it is 6270 m long and its capacity is 1500 people per hour.
There are two ski centres in the Mountain. The first ski center is called "Aleko" and it is the oldest one in Bulgaria. Its altitude is 1800 m. The tracks north-situated. The skiing equipment includes one cabin and two seated lifts, six stationary and some portable ski drags.

The second ski centre is "Konyarnika-Vetrovala". It is situated at the altitude of 600 m as it surmounts the height of 128 m. Besides this one, there are two portable ski drags.
Vitosha Mountain is very suitable for pedestrian tourism by the marked routes and paths throughout the year.

The Mountain Rescue Service (MRS) is 24 hours available by means of its wireless connection with "Aleko" ski center on Cherny Vrah peak and the ski center near "Tintyava" chalet in the region of Ofeliite. The MRS marked the avalanche-dangerous areas around Kominite region, Prespa chalet, the north-western slopes of Kapaklivets region, the eastern slopes and gullies of Reznyovite region and Dupkata region below Cherny Vrah peak.

For information and contacts:
"Vitosha" Nature Park Directorate
1303 Sofia, Bulgaria
17, Antim 1 Str.,
Tel: +359 2/ 989 53 77
 +359 2/ 988 58 41
Fax: +359 2/ 989 53 77
e-mail: dppvitosha@nug.bg

For more information: www.park-vitosha.org

  

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