A view from Kom Peak in western Bulgaria
|Elevation||2,376 m (7,795 ft)|
|Length||557 km (346 mi)west-east|
|Width||15–50 km (9.3–31.1 mi)north-south|
|Area||11,596 km2 (4,477 sq mi)|
|Native name||Стара Планина / Stara Planina |
Балкан / Balkan
|Countries||Bulgaria and Serbia|
|Type of rock||granite, gneiss and limestone|
The Balkan mountain range (Bulgarian and Serbian: Стара Планина, romanized: Stara Planina, literally: "Old Mountain"; Bulgarian pronunciation: [ˈstarɐ pɫɐniˈna] ; Serbian pronunciation: [stâːraː planǐna] ) is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The range runs 557 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on Bulgarian-Serbian border eastward through central Bulgaria to foothills reaching Cape Emine on the Black Sea. The highest peaks of the Balkan Mountains are in central Bulgaria. The highest peak is Botev at 2,376 m, which makes the mountain range the third highest in the country, after Rila and Pirin. The mountains are the source of the name of the Balkan Peninsula.
All, but its eastern foothills and a western gap, is the watershed between the Black Sea and Aegean Sea drainage basins. The western gap is, spectacularly narrow, Iskar Gorge, a few miles north of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. The karst relief determines the large number of caves, including Magura, featuring the most important and extended European post-Palaeolithic cave painting, Ledenika, Saeva dupka, Bacho Kiro, etc. The most notable rock formation are the Belogradchik Rocks in the west.
There are several important protected areas: Central Balkan National Park, Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, Bulgarka Nature Park and Sinite Kamani Nature Park, as well as a number of nature reserves. The Balkan Mountains are remarkable for their flora and fauna. Edelweiss grows there in the region of Kozyata stena. Some of the most striking landscapes are included in the Central Balkan National Park with steep cliffs, the highest waterfalls in the Balkan Peninsula and lush vegetation. There are a number of important nature reserves such as Chuprene, Kozyata stena and others. Most of Europe's large mammals inhabit the area including the brown bear, wolf, boar, chamois and deer.
The Balkan Mountains played an enormous role in the history of Bulgaria since its foundation in 681 AD, and in the development of the Bulgarian nation and people.
It is believed the name was brought to the region in the 7th century by Bulgars [ citation needed ] who applied it to the area, as a part of the First Bulgarian Empire.[ citation needed ] In Bulgarian, the archaic word balkan (балкан) was borrowed from Turkish and means "mountain". It may have ultimately derived from the Persian bālkāneh or bālākhāna, meaning "high, above, or proud house." The name is still preserved in Central Asia with the Balkan Daglary (Balkan Mountains) and the Balkan Province of Turkmenistan. In Turkish balkan means "a chain of wooded mountains"
In Antiquity and the Middle Ages the mountains were known by their Thracian αἵμα) meaning 'blood', and is based on Greek mythology. During a fight between Zeus and the monster/titan Typhon, Zeus injured Typhon with thunder; and Typhon's blood fell on the mountains, which were then named for this battle.name: the Haemus Mons. Scholars consider that the name Haemus (Αἷμος) is derived from a Thracian word *saimon, 'mountain ridge'. The name of the place where the range meets the Black Sea, Cape Emine, is derived from Aemon. A folk etymology holds that 'Haemus' derives from the Greek word "haima" (
Other names used to refer to the mountains in different time periods include Aemon, Haemimons, Hem, Emus, the Slavonic Matorni gori and the Turkish Kodzhabalkan.
Geologically, the Balkan Mountains are a mountain chain of fold mountains, a "young" part of the Alp-Himalayan chain that stretches across most of Europe and Asia. It can be divided into two parts: the main Balkan Chain and the Pre-Balkans (Fore-Balkan) to the north, which intrude slightly into the Danubian Plain. To the south, the mountains border the Sub-Balkan valleys - a row of 11 valleys running from the Bulgarian border with Serbia east to the Black Sea, separating the Balkan mountains from a chain of other mountains known as Srednogorie which includes Vitosha and Sredna Gora.
The range consists of around 30 distinct mountains. Within Bulgaria the Balkan Mountains can be divided into three sections:
|%||Average altitude, m||0 – 200 m, km2||%||200 – 600 m, km2||%||600 – 1000 m, km2||%||1000 – 1600 m, km2||%||over 1600 m, km2||%|
|Western Balkan Mountains||4 196,9||36.19||849||–||–||907.1||21.61||2 074,9||49.44||1 139,6||27.15||75.3||1.79|
|Central Balkan Mountains||3 400,9||29.33||961||–||–||549.8||16.17||1 512,7||44.48||1 076,7||31.66||261.7||7.70|
|Eastern Balkan Mountains||3 998,6||34.48||385||560||14.00||2 798,9||70.00||624.1||15.61||15.6||0.39||–||—|
|Total||11 596,4||100||722||560||4.83||4 255,8||36.70||4 211,7||36.32||2 231,9||19.25||337||2.91|
The Balkan Mountains form a water divide between the rivers flowing to the Danube in the north and those flowing to the Aegean Sea in the south. However, they are crossed by Bulgaria's widest river, the Iskar, which forms the spectacular Iskar Gorge. Rivers that take their source from the Balkan Mountains and flow northwards to the Danube include the Timok, Archar, Lom, Tsibritsa, Ogosta, Skat, Vit, Osam, Yantra, and Rusenski Lom. The mountains are also the source of the Kamchiya, which flows directly into the Black Sea. Although not so abundant in mineral waters as other parts of Bulgaria, there are several spas such as Varshets, Shipkovo and Voneshta Voda.
There are a number of waterfalls, especially in the western and central parts of the range, such as Raysko Praskalo which is the highest waterfall in the Balkan Peninsula, Borov Kamak, Babsko Praskalo, Etropole Waterfall, Karlovsko Praskalo, Skaklya and others. Developments in the recent two decades completely changed the geography of Serbia, when it comes to waterfalls. Area of the Stara Planina has always been sparsely populated and inaccessible because of the rugged and forested terrain, but also as a location of the Serbian-Bulgarian border. As armies relinquished the borders giving control to the border police, civilians were allowed to explore the area. 43 m (141 ft); Pilj in 2002 - 64 m (210 ft); Kopren in 2011 - 103.5 m (340 ft); Kaluđerski Skokovi in 2012 - 232 m (761 ft).As a result, higher and higher waterfalls have been discovered on the Serbian side of the Stara Planina since then: Čungulj in 1996 -
The mountains are crossed by 20 passes and two gorges. There are paved roads crossing the Balkan Mountains at the following passes (listed from west to east):
The Balkan Mountains have had a significant and special place in the history of Bulgaria since its founding in 681. It was a natural fortress of the Bulgarian Empire for centuries and formed an effective barrier to Moesia where most of the medieval capitals were located. The Balkan mountains were the site of numerous battles between the Bulgarian and Byzantine Empires including the Battle of the Rishki Pass (759), Battle of the Varbitsa Pass (811), and the Battle of Tryavna (1190). In the battle of the Varbitsa Pass, Khan Krum decisively defeated an enormous Byzantine army, killing Emperor Nikephoros I. For many centuries the Byzantines feared these mountains, and on several occasions Byzantine armies pulled back on approaching the Balkan Mountains.
During the Ottoman rule, many haiduks found refuge in the Balkan Mountains. Close to the highest summit, Botev Peak, is Kalofer, the birthplace of Hristo Botev, a Bulgarian poet and national hero who died in the western Balkan Mountains near Vratsa in 1876 in the struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Also close to Botev Peak is Shipka Pass, the scene of the four battles in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78, which ended Turkish rule in the Balkans.
First group of trees was protected in 1966, followed by the creation of 7 special nature reserves and 3 natural monuments in the 1980s. Nature park Stara Planina was established in 1997 and since 2009 is in its present borders, covering an area of 1,143.22 km2 (441.40 sq mi). The protected area was expanded in 2020.
Limestone terrain is known for the short losing streams and tufaceous waterfalls. There are canyons and gorges, like those of the Toplodolska reka and Rosomačka reka rivers. Underground waters on the mountain reach the surface in the forms of common springs, well-springs (vrelo) and diffused springs (pištevina). There are some 500 springs with the flow of over 0.1 L/s (1.3 imp gal/min). The strongest spring is the intermittent Jelovičko vrelo, known for its fluctuations, characterized by the bubbling and foaming.
Montane ecosystems are diverse and include several plant communities: forests, shrubs, meadows, pastures and peatlands. There are six different vegetation zone in the park. Oak, beech, spruce, subalpine zone of the shrub vegetation of common horsetail, blueberry, subalpine spruce and mugo pine. Other plants include shrub alder, steppe pedunculate oak, but also rare and endangered species like European pasqueflower, yellow pheasant's eye, Kosovo peony, common sundew, Heldreich's maple, martagon lily, pygmy iris and marsh orchid.
The area is a salmonid region, inhabited by the riverine brown trout. Another 25 species of fish live in the rivers and streams, so as the fire salamander and newts. There are 203 species of birds, of which 154 are nesting in the park, 10 are wintering, 30 are passing and 13 are wandering. Important species include golden eagle, Ural owl and hawk. As the park is the most important habitat in Serbia for long-legged buzzard, Eurasian woodcock and an endemic Balkan horned lark, an area of 440 km2 (170 sq mi) was declared a European Important Bird Area. The griffon vulture disappeared from the region in the late 1940s. In 2017 a program for their reintroduction began within the scope of a wider European program. Among other things, the feeders will be placed along the vultures' migratory route. Over 30 mammalian species are found in the park, including lesser mole-rat, hazel dormouse and the Tertiary relict, European snow vole. Brown bear became extinct in Serbian part, but evidence showing the presence of the bears were found in 2014. The bears have been photographed in 2015, before disappearing again until 2019 when a young brown bear was filmed on camera.
Human heritage spans from the prehistoric remains, Classical antiquity including the Roman period and late mediaeval monastic complexes. Some of those older monuments are fragmentary and relocated from their original locations. There are numerous examples of the ethnic edifices characteristic for the architecture of the region in the late 19th and early 20th century (houses, barns, etc.)
Serbian section of the mountain is seen as a location for dozens of micro hydros, mini power plants which caused problem with the environmentalists and local population. Even the Ministry for environmental protection halted some of the projects and litigated with the investors. They also announced the change of the Nature protection law, which will permanently forbid the construction of plants in protected areas. In order to prevent further degradation, the Nature Park Stara Planina was nominated for the UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme and for the world list of geoparks, while over tens of thousands of citizens signed petitions against the micro hydros and numerous protests have been organized by the local population.This prompted similar protests in other parts of Serbia and the association "Defend the rivers of Stara Planina" was founded, which expanded its base of operations outside of the Stara Planina region. The activism resulted in various physical altercation between the local citizens on one, and contractors and their security guards on the other side, amidst the police interventions.
In October 2018, Minister of Environmental Protection Goran Trivan, said that the current law allows for the micro hydros to be built in the protected areas.The government allowed the construction of 800 micro hydros, which has been described as "megalomaniacal" by the ecologists, as they would produce less than 1% of the total electricity. Environmentalists also accused the government of destroying the plant and animal life using the pretext of renewable energy. In September 2019, Pirot city administration announced it is removing from the spatial plan all 43 existing locations for the micro hydros on the protected area of Stara Planina. There are 15 locations remaining in the unprotected sector of the mountain, but city officials announced abolishing of these locations in the future, too.
Sarp ve ormanlık sıradağ
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Bulgaria is a country situated in Southeast Europe and occupies the eastern quarter of the Balkan peninsula, being the largest country within its geographic boundaries. It is bordering Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The northern border with Romania follows the river Danube until the city of Silistra. The land area of Bulgaria is 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), slightly larger than that of Iceland or the U.S. state of Tennessee. Considering its relatively small size, Bulgaria has a great variety of topographical features. Even within small parts of the country, the land may be divided into plains, plateaus, hills, mountains, basins, gorges, and deep river valleys. The geographic center of Bulgaria is located in Uzana.
Serbia is a sovereign state situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the far southern edges of the Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. It shares borders with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia is landlocked, though it is able to access the Adriatic Sea through Montenegro and inland Europe and the Black Sea via the Danube.
Sofia Province is a province (oblast) of Bulgaria. The province does not include Sofia in its territories, but Sofia remains its administrative center. The province borders on the provinces of Pernik, Kyustendil, Blagoevgrad, Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, Lovech, Vratsa, Montana and "Sofia City Province", and borders with Serbia to the northwest.
The Šar Mountains or Sharr Mountains, form a mountain range in the Balkans that extends from Kosovo and the northwest of North Macedonia to northeastern Albania. The mountain is colloquially called Šara. The section in Kosovo is a national park.
Rila is the highest mountain range of Bulgaria, the Balkan Peninsula and Southeast Europe. It is situated in southwestern Bulgaria and forms part of the Rila–Rhodope Massif. The highest summit is Musala at an altitude of 2,925 m which makes Rila the sixth highest mountain range in Europe after the Caucasus, the Alps, Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and Mount Etna, and the highest one between the Alps and the Caucasus. It spans a territory of 2,629 km2 with an average altitude of 1487 m. The mountain is believed to have been named after the river of the same name, which comes from the Old Bulgarian verb "рыти" meaning "to grub".
Vratsa is the largest city in northwestern Bulgaria. Administrative and economic center of the municipality of Vratsa and Vratsa district. It is located about 112 km north of Sofia, 40 km southeast of Montana.
Tara is a mountain located in western Serbia. It is part of Dinaric Alps and stands at 1,000 to 1,590 m above sea level. The mountain's slopes are clad in dense forests with numerous high-altitude clearings and meadows, steep cliffs, deep ravines carved by the nearby Drina River and many karst, or limestone caves. The mountain is a popular tourist centre. Tara's national park encompasses a large part of the mountain. The highest peak is Zborište, at 1,544 m (5,066 ft).
Apriltsi is a small town in Lovech Province, Central-North Bulgaria, located in the vicinity of the highest part of Stara Planina mountain. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Apriltsi Municipality. As of December 2009, the town has a population of 3,318 inhabitants.
The Iskar is a right tributary of the Danube. With a length of 368 km it is the longest river that runs entirely within Bulgaria. Originating as three forks in Balkan's highest mountain range Rila, it flows in northern direction until its confluence with the Danube River. As it flows northwards it fuels the largest artificial lake in the country, the Iskar Reservoir, forms the divide between the Vitosha and Plana Mountains in the west and the Sredna Gora mountain range in the east before entering the Sofia Valley, which contains the nation's capital Sofia. From there the Iskar runs through the Balkan Mountains forming the spectacular 84 km long Iskar Gorge and as it crosses the mountains its water course turns in north-eastern direction at Lakatnik. North of the Balkan Mountains the river crosses the Danubian Plain and finally flows into the Danube between the villages of Baykal and Gigen. Geologically, Iskar is the oldest river in the Balkan Peninsula.
Sredna Gora is a mountain range in central Bulgaria, situated south of and parallel to the Balkan mountain range and extending from the Iskar River to the west and the elbow of Tundzha north of Yambol to the east. Sredna Gora is 285 km long, reaching 50 km at its greatest width. Its highest peak is Golyam Bogdan at 1,604 m (5,262 ft). It is part of the Srednogorie mountain chain system, together with Vitosha, Plana (mountain), Lyulin Mountain, Greben (mountain), Viskyar Mountain, etc.
The Central Balkan National Park lies in the heart of Bulgaria, nestled in the central and higher portions of the Balkan Mountains. Its altitude varies from 550 m. near the town of Karlovo to 2376 m. at Botev Peak, the highest summit in the mountain range. It was established on 31 October 1991. The Central Balkan National Park is the third largest protected territory in Bulgaria, spanning an area of 716.69 km² with total length of 85 km from the west to the east and an average width of 10 km. It occupies territory from 5 of the 28 provinces of the country: Lovech, Gabrovo, Sofia, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. The national park includes nine nature reserves covering 28% of its territory: Boatin, Tsarichina, Kozya Stena, Steneto, Severen Dzhendem, Peeshti Skali, Sokolna, Dzhendema and Stara Reka.
Temštica or Temska is a river in Serbia, a right tributary of the river Nišava. The Temštica itself is not very long (23 km), but receives a much longer tributary, the Visočica (Височица), flowing from Bulgaria, through Serbia making Visočica and Temštica river system 93.7 km long.
Midžor or Midzhur is a peak in the Balkan Mountains, situated on the border between Bulgaria and Serbia. At 2,169 metres (7,116 ft), it is the highest peak of the Western Balkan Mountains, as well as the highest of Serbia outside Kosovo. Midžor is the 12th highest peak in the Balkan Mountains.
Golija is a mountain in southwestern Serbia, between towns of Ivanjica and Novi Pazar. It is part of the Dinaric mountain range. The mountain is heavily forested with significant biodiversity. It contains the Golija-Studenica Biosphere Reserve, the first UNESCO-MAB registered biosphere reserve in Serbia. It is also a small ski resort, with several historical monuments and monasteries. The highest peak is Jankov kamen at 1,833 m.
The Iskar Gorge is a 70 km (43 mi) gorge passing through the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria. It is the chief pass through the Balkans, which otherwise cross northern Bulgaria in a solid line. The pass connects the capital of Sofia with other major cities in the country, such as Mezdra. There is a road and a railway through the pass, following the course of the Iskar River.
Pilj Waterfall or simply Pilj, is the third highest waterfall in Serbia, being discovered by geologists and alpinists only in 2002.
Kučaj is a mountain range in eastern Serbia. Its highest peak, Velika Tresta has an elevation of 1,284 meters above sea level. They belong to the Serbian extension of Carpathians, which separate the valleys of Great Morava and Timok.
Kopren Waterfall is the second highest waterfall in Serbia. It is located on Stara Planina mountain in southeast Serbia and 103.5 m (340 ft) high. Between 16 June 2011, when it was measured, and 9 June 2012, when the waterfall Kaluđerski Skokovi was measured, Kopren was considered the highest waterfall in Serbia.
Kaluđerski Skokovi is the highest waterfall in Serbia. It is located on the Stara Planina mountain in southeast Serbia. Only discovered in 2012, it is 232 m (761 ft) high, which is over twice more than the Kopren Waterfall, previously the highest waterfall in Serbia, which itself was discovered only a year earlier.