Pirin National Park – Pirin Mountain

Pirin Mountains rises in southwestern Bulgaria between the deep valleys of the Struma River to the West and the Mesta River to the East with the highest peak of Vihren, 2914 meters high. The diverse limestone Pirin mountain landscapes include over 70 glacial lakes and a range of glacial landforms, with many waterfalls, rocky screes and caves. Pirin Mountain lakes are Banderishki Lakes, Chairski Lakes, Kremenski Lakes, Popovo Lake, Samodivski Lakes, Sinanishko Lake, Tipitski Lakes, Valyavishki Lakes, Vasilashki and Vlahini Lakes. The Pirin Mountain range spreads in direction northwest southeast for about 80 km and is about 40 km wide. Most of the Pirin Mountain massif makes the Pirin National Park, which belongs to the UNESCO Natural Heritage since 1983. Pirin National Park is situated between the regions of Predela – the saddle between two mountains – Rila to the north and Pirin to the south, and Todorova polyana and covers an area of 40332 hectares. Pirin National Park and Pirin Mountain features a mixture of central European, Alpine, Balkan mountain and sub-Mediterranean species, but in addition there are about 30 local endemic species. The Pirin Mountain got its name after supreme God Perun of the ancient Slavs that was the God of thunder and lightning.

The Pirin Mountain is very impressive featuring limestone and granite areas, sharp pointed pyramidal peaks, deep corridors and beautiful glacial lakes. There are 50 marble and granite peaks over 2500 m and more than 180 circus lakes at the foot of the peaks that are between 1260 and 2720 m high. Dense forests of white and black fir, spruce, white and black pine, and dwarf pine cover the steep slopes of the Pirin Mountain. Herds of chamois wander in the most secluded areas. The foothills of the Pirin Mountain abound with hot mineral springs, orchards and vineyards. Pirin National Park is the part of the scenic Pirin Mountain, located in the high parts of the Northern Pirin Mountain featuring a specific relief and an inimitable plant and animal world. Pirin Mational Park also incorporates the gorgeous Bayuvi Doupki-Dzhindzhiritsa Biosphere Reserve and the Yulen Reserve. The Sandanski resort fatures healthy climate which had attracted settlers since Antiquity. The mineral springs of Sandanski have temperatures ranging from 33 to 83 degrees Centigrade, which makes them appropriate for various medical treatments /baths and drinking/. Numerous luxurious hotels offer great opportunities for relaxing spa vacations in the Sandanski resort, which is starting point for a number of tourist routes through the Pirin National Park. Sandanski is the best bronchial asthma treatment center in Europe. Heraclea Sintica is located near the village of Rupite, approximately 16 km south of Sandanski, on the slopes of an extinct volcano, near the confluence of the Strumenshnica (ancient Pontos) and Struma (ancient Strymon) rivers. The important Hellenistic city of Heraclea Sintica along the Strymon River and at the junction between valleys leading west into Illyricum and south into Greek Macedonia, contributed toward the wealth of the city as a commercial center. The city of Heraclea Sintica thrived in the Roman and Late Antique periods, declining in the early Middle Ages.

Bansko is Bulgaria’s NO1 ski resort, at the altitude of 925 meters, featuring the best and most modern ski center of all Bulgarian ski resorts, which some consider the the most modern winter resort in the Balkans. Bansko, once mainly a stock-breeding and traveling merchant community of Pirin, has become an international center for winter and summer tourism. The Pirin mountain peaks near the town of Bansko, the numerous lakes and the old pine woods make it a popular site for recreation. During the recent years a multi-million euros investment in a brand new skiing area has been made by Yulen, the company which has the license to run the skiing area of the resort. Bansko has the best snow record and the longest ski season (15 Dec – 15 May) of all Bulgarian ski resorts. A gondola-lift was built from town in 2003, replacing the minibus ride to the primary base area of Banderishka Poliana. As of 2010, the ski area has 75 km of ski runs, 27 lifts and drags, serving up to 24,500 persons per hour. The lift-served summit rises to an elevation of 2600 m above sea level. The vertical drop is nearly 1000 meters to the base area at Banderishka Poliana, and over 1600 meters with the ski runs to town. During the last couple of years Bansko is under a massive investment process with new hotels and resort facilities being under construction. A brand new resort area with super luxury hotels and holiday apartments is being developed just opposite the Gondola lift, which also makes Bansko the resort with the best hotels. Bansko is situated 60 km southeast of Blagoevgrad and 160 km south of Sofia.