People who live in Sofia usually look up to the Vitosha mountain rising like a big guardian above the city. A common sight from the city is the two-pointed silhouette of the mountain, which always attracts people’s attention.
At first, people visited the mountain on their own, without a guide, just for a walk and mostly at the base. The main visitors used to be people from the villages in Vitosha who took their livestock out to graze on pastures and those who harvested timber. These people began to build sheep-pens for their animals and shelter for themselves.
Over time, interest in the mountain has increased. On August 27th, 1895, many people took part in the first organized mass climbing on the highest peak of Vitosha – Cherni vrah (2,290 m), which has a special place in the history of the Bulgarian Tourist Movement.
Its climb, organized by the writer Aleko Konstantinov, is considered to be the beginning of organized tourism and the Bulgarian Tourist Union (BTS). Every year on this date hundreds of tourists climb Cherni vrah.
During this period, groups of people started transporting wood purchased with funds they raised to build the first shelters and chalets. They brought materials up on their backs or used pack animals. Thus first tourist paths were made, some of which later became the main tourist trails of Vitosha.
Along the trails, there are recreation areas and viewpoints. Marked trails were also created – winter and summer ones.
Many of the chalets, such as Aleko, Selimitsa and Edelweiss, have been built by volunteers and with the help of donations. Stone by stone, people built places for a longer stay in the beautiful nature of the mountain.
People who have been inhabiting Vitosha since ancient time have repeatedly changed its appearance. They’ve built dense network of roads, chalets, holiday homes, ski runs and ski lifts. Despite the strong anthropogenic pressure, Vitosha has preserved a surprisingly high level of biodiversity.
To protect this unique nature, Vitosha Nature Park was established. And today, because of the proximity of Vitosha Nature Park to the capital, it is the most visited protected area in Bulgaria. Thanks to this protection status, during your mountain tour you can see rare species of animals, birds and plants.
Vitosha represents a complex and very interesting object from a geological, petrographic, plant, animal and tourist point of view. Its great territory and natural diversity of springs, rivers, waterfalls, bogs, seas and forests has always attracted tourists.
Text and photos: Vitosha Nature Park and Veliko Karachiviev at Unsplash.com