Пирин in Bulgarian
A mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria, with Vihren at an altitude of 2,914 m being the highest peak. One hypothesis is the mountain was named after Perun, the highest god of the Slavic Pantheon and the god of thunder and lightning. Another version is that the etymology of the range derives from the Thracian word Perinthos, meaning "Rocky Mountain".
The range extends about 80 km from the north-west to the south-east and is about 40 km wide, spanning a territory of 2,585 km2 (998 sq. mi). To the north Pirin is separated from Bulgaria's highest mountain range, the Rila Mountain, by the Predel saddle, while to the south it reaches the Slavyanka Mountain. To the west is located the valley of the river Struma and to the east the valley of the river Mesta separates it from the Rhodope Mountains. Pirin is dotted with more than a hundred glacial lakes (The biggest one is Popovo lake with a small island inside) and is also the home of Europe’s southernmost glaciers, Snezhnika and Banski Suhudol. The relief is Pirin is alpine which is manifested by morains, U-shaped valleys, rocky thresholds, high peaks and beautiful lakes.
There are more than 40 peaks above 2500 m.
The northern part of the range, which is also the highest one, is protected by the Pirin National Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Pirin is noted for its rich flora and fauna, as well as for the presence of several relict species. Much of the area is forested, with some of the best-preserved conifer woods in Bulgaria, holding important populations of the Balkan endemic species Macedonian pine, Bosnian pine, and Bulgarian fir. Animals include many species of high conservation value, such as brown bear, gray wolf, wildcat, lynx, European pine marten, wild boar, red deer, roe deer, chamois etc.
Although many rivers take their sources from Pirin and there are loads of springs on some long hikes you can find no water during the whole day.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
There are lots of alive villages and small towns in the foothills of Pirin. Some of the best-known are:
The biggest ski-resort in Bulgaria, but also a treasury of numerous Bulgarian Revival-style houses and a home to famous Bulgarian Revival historical figures from 18thand 19thcenturies.
The smallest town in Bulgaria (217 inhabitants), famous for its unique local wine, preserved architecture and interesting sand pyramids.
Dobrinischte and the town of Sandanski
In both places you can enjoy hot mineral waters after a long hike.
Rozhen village – the Rozhen Monastery is situated here, a very well preserved place of worship which was built in the Middle Ages.
You can stay in the family-run hotels or luxury hotels. If you prefer to overnight on higher altitude, you can optionally stay in one of the huts in the mountains. All of them are open during summer months, some however can be closed in the winter. Most of them can offer you basic food and drinks. Please note, it can be hard to make a reservation by phone due to bad connection or language difficulties.
It is necessary to note that Pirin is a mountain range with very changeable weather. Rocks are slippery and during rain or fog they become dangerous. Terrain is difficult on most of the places and trek-marks are not always easy to follow. If you prefer to go to a snowshoeing hike, it is strongly recommended to hire a guide. There is a significant danger of avalanches in a number of spots.
Here are a few annual festivals and events within the area of Pirin
Pirin Songs - takes place at Predela Pass, end of July – beginning of August. A national folklore festival.
Pirin Folk - in Sandanski in September. International singing contest with folklore songs.
International Jazz Festival Bansko – in August in Bansko. The biggest summer fest in Bulgaria.
Golden Grape – a wine festival in Melnik – takes place in the beginning of February. You can taste the local wine and enjoy the folklore performances.
Kukery Fest Razlog – 1stJanuary – “Kukeri” is an old Bulgarian tradition dating back to ancient pagan times when people believed that dramatic masks and costumes had the power to protect their owners against evil. The festival a real fun after the New Year celebration in the nearby town Bansko.