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VITOSHA (Bulgarian : Витоша), the ancient Scomius or Scombrus, is a volcanic mountain massif , on the outskirts of Sofia
Sofia
, the capital of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
. Vitosha
Vitosha
is one of the symbols of Sofia
Sofia
and the closest site for hiking, alpinism and skiing . Convenient bus lines and rope ways render the mountain easily accessible. Vitosha
Vitosha
has the outlines of an enormous dome. The territory of the mountain includes Vitosha
Vitosha
nature park that encompasses the best known and most frequently visited parts. The foothills of Vitosha
Vitosha
shelter resort quarters of Sofia; Knyazhevo quarter has mineral springs . Vitosha
Vitosha
is the oldest nature park in the Balkans
Balkans
. The mountain emerged as a result of volcanic activity and has been subsequently shaped by the slow folding of the granite rock layers and a series of gradual uplifts of the area. It appears dome shaped at first sight, but the mountain, 19 km long by 17 km wide, actually consists of concentric denudational plateaus rising in tiers one above the other. Vitosha
Vitosha
is separated into four main parts whose main ridges gather at a crown known as Cherni Vrah ("Black Peak"). This is the highest point of the mountain at 2290 m and is one of 10 peaks of Vitosha
Vitosha
over 2000 m in height.

Bulgaria\'s longest cave – Duhlata , with a total length of 18,200 m, is situated in Vitosha
Vitosha
in the karstic region near the village of Bosnek.

Since the ancient times of the Thracians
Thracians
a large population has always existed at the base of Vitosha. For the last four thousand years the economy of this large settlement has always been connected, in one way or another, with the neighboring mountain. The name Vitosha comes from the two-peaked, twin ridge mountain, which rises above the Sofia
Sofia
field and has acquired its present shape in stages over many millennia.

A meteorological station was built at the top in 1935, and is still operating. The station also serves as a rest shelter for hikers and is the headquarters for the mountain rescue team. Historical documents show that several centuries ago Vitosha
Vitosha
mountain was still covered by the remains of the inaccessible "Great Bulgarian Forest" (Magna Silva Bulgarica). Today, the natural coniferous forests of Vitosha
Vitosha
remain only in the reserve Bistrishko Branishte and around Zlatnite Mostove (The Golden Bridges). The Golden Bridges is a stone river consisting of a ribbon of huge boulders running down the mountainside. This scenic spot is located along the Vladayska River in an area of mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. However, this is only one of the stone rivers found in Vitosha
Vitosha
and they were once the moraines of ancient glaciers. Their further formation occurred due to the spherical erosion of the sienite rocks and their gradual movement to down stream valleys by the forces of gravity and moving water.

At a time when nature conservation ideas were a long way from the present understanding, some enlightened noblemen took the first step in 1934 by declaring 66 km² of Vitosha
Vitosha
a nature park , hence Vitosha became the first park of this kind in the Balkans
Balkans
. During the following year, some of the early Bulgarian reserves, Bistrishko Branishte (subsequently expanded to 10.61 km²) and Torfeno Branishte (7.84 km² respectively), were designated within its boundaries. The park boundaries fluctuated over many years and today it encompasses the entire mountain; an area of 266.06 km².

The Syfy Channel original movie, Rage of the Yeti, was filmed on Mt. Vitosha
Vitosha
in January 2010 by UFO Films, a movie production company based both in Sofia
Sofia
and Burbank, CA. The Aleko area with the Aleko lodge in the middle

CONTENTS

* 1 Ecology * 2 Honours * 3 See also * 4 References * 5 External links

ECOLOGY

Due to a great variability in elevation , a rich diversity of climates, flora and fauna can be found within the park. Research has revealed that on the comparatively small area of the mountain there are 1,500 species of higher plants, 500 species of fungi , 500 species of algae , 326 species of mosses , and 200 species of lichens . Among them 31 species are Balkan endemics and 52 species are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria.

The forests are made up mainly of Norway Spruce
Norway Spruce
and Bulgarian Fir , with some Macedonian Pine , Scots Pine , and at the tree-line, Mountain Pine , and mixed deciduous forest at lower altitudes, mainly beech , birch , aspen and alder . Regarding the herbaceous plants, well established populations of Veratrum album
Veratrum album
are present in the mountain so as other species commonly called 'lilies'. There are also Orchids
Orchids
as the East European green-winged orchid ( Orchis morio ) that grows in the higher parts. Lungworth ( Pulmonaria officinalis
Pulmonaria officinalis
) is another widespread herbaceous plant in Vitosha
Vitosha
and it develops in dank sites under the shade of the forest. Torfeno Branishte (Peat Reserve) on the Vitosha
Vitosha
Plateau. The city of Sofia
Sofia
can be seen in the background (right). The Plateau with Torfeno Branishte . Ushite and Kamen Del Peaks seen in the background. View of Cherni Vrah

HONOURS

Vitosha Saddle , Rezen Knoll , Komini Peak , and Kikish Crag on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands , Antarctica
Antarctica
are named respectively for Mount Vitosha, and for the Vitosha
Vitosha
peaks of Malak Rezen and Golyam Rezen , Kominite Peak, and Kikish site.

*

Vitosha
Vitosha
seen from Sofia
Sofia
*

East Sofia
Sofia
seen from Vitosha
Vitosha
*

Another view *

Snow-covered trees in February, northern side *

Boyana waterfall, highest in Vitosha
Vitosha
*

View of the Vitosha
Vitosha
Mountain from the South Park of Sofia
Sofia

Vitosha
Vitosha
is also the name of:

* Radio Vitosha * Vitosha Boulevard - a popular main street in Sofia; with shops, boutiques and restaurants.

SEE ALSO

* Stone rivers * Bistrishko Branishte *