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VITOSHA MOUNTAIN
Vitosha is a natural park of Sofi a and a favourite place for recreation not only for Sofi anites but also for the guests from the country and abroad. Much has been written about its scenic splendours, but it is most famous for its vegetation wealth, unique and impressive stone rivers, and the longest cave in Bulgaria – Duhlata on the southern mountainside. Vitosha was designated a national park not only in Bulgaria but in the Balkan Peninsula on October 27, 1934, and it covered a territory of 6,401 ha. Its territory was altered several times. In 1936 the park was called “popular”, and in 2000 – nature park. At present, the park territory is 26,606 ha.
In Vitosha Nature Park there are two reserves: Bistrishko Branishte, which in 1977 was proclaimed a Biosphere Reserve and listed on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program; and Torfeno Branishte, comprising the upland peat-bogs between Cherni Vrah and Chernata Skala (Black Rock) peak, aged between 1000 and 1500 years.
Vitosha’s highest peak, Cherni Vrah rises 2290 m above sea level. It is surrounded by the peaks Golyam and Malak Rezen, Skoparnik, Kupena, Samara and Selimitsa. In the vast bog under the southern fl anks of Cherni Vrah and Skoparnik peak rises the river Struma, which finds its way to the Aegean Sea. The mineral springs in Knyazhevo (22- 31.5??), Rudartsi, Boyana and Simeonovo are known for their healing effects.
A footpath leads to the beautiful Boyana Waterfall, which is 1200 m a.s.l. and is 15 m tall. In the territory of the park 1,489 higher plant species have been established (of which 25 Bulgarian endemites, 31 Balkan endemites, 47 species on the Red Book of Bulgaria), 500 varieties of fungi, 500 varieties of duckweed, 300 varieties of moss and 200 varieties of lichen. The Vitosha dendrarium is in the area of Kiselishte, where over an area of 1400 decares interesting tree and bush genera can be seen. There are many invertebrates and vertebrates, among which 800 species of butterfl ies, 40 species of ants, 10 species of amphibians, 14 species of reptiles, 114 species of nesting birds, and about 50 species of mammals. Despite its proximity to the big city, the park has preserved the conditions necessary for the existence of species such as the bear, red deer, roe, wild-boar, fox, badger, marten and weasel, which inhabit the mountain to this day. Of the birds, several rare and endangered species nest here, such as the goshawk, sparrow-hawk and black woodpecker.
All chalets in the mountain offer accommodation and traditional cuisine.