Natural sights and protected territories
In Vratsa ther are plenty of natural sights – the gorge “Vratzata” which gave the name of the town, the “Ledenika” cave, the “Okolchitsa” sight, where the poet-revolutionist Hristo Botev was killed,. In the town itself, there are two medieval towers – “The Kurtpashov Tower” and “The Meshchii Tower”, dating back from the XVI Century.
The Natural Park “Vrachanski Balkan" is one of the 10 such parks in the country, declared with an order N1449 from 12.12.1989 of the Committee for the Protection of the Environment, and in March 1997 it was declared as a Protected sight of International Importance. The park’s territory has a total area of 30 130 hectares spreading within the lands of three districts: Vratsa, Montana and Sofia and five municipalities: Vratsa, Mezdra, Krivodol, Varshetz and Svoge. In the Registers of IUCN /International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources/ the park is classified as category five of “Protected Landscapes” – it is given an international importance and it is recommended for tourism, relaxation and recuperation. It is an unique natural complex having great biological and landscape diversity.The Natural Park “Vrachanski Balkan” is rich of some of the most interesting caves and abysses – their number is about 500. The caves are among the natural miracles of the world, and their unique underground beauty has been achieved for millions of years.
Within “Vrachanski Balkan” there are more than 700 species of plants comprising 1/5 of the Bulgarian Flora, 51 of them are identified as rare or threatened with extinction, 25 species are protected by the Law for the Preservation of Nature. They are divided into 37 formations and 1224 associations and groups of associations. 78 tree and bush species as well as 36 grass are related to these associations (ecosystems). 138 species of animals are protected by the Law for the Preservation of Nature, 21 of which ate entered in the Red Book of Bulgaria. The invertebrate fauna has a high value for the natural protection, as well as the day - predatory birds such as the Black Stork, Egyptian Vulture, Imperial Eagle, White-tail Buzzard, etc.
One of the most attractive centres in the park is the man-made eco-trails. Their location makes them unique, they are only six kilometres away from Vratsa, there is a convenient transport connection to them, and the trails offer unforgettable feelings to tourists and nature admirers. They are also part of the programme, offered to foreigners. They have been constructed by natural materials only, i.e. of trees and stones. Another attraction for the little tourists is the so called “Trail of the Fairy tails" Here children can meet their favourite characters from the fairy tales, and to visit the house of the Old Witch.
In the Park there are protected territories of higher category. These are the reserves:
• “Vrachanski Karst” – 1438,9 hectares /I-st category – scientific and natural reserves/ it is a natural sight of international importance. It is one of the most richest cave in the country and most of the cave species are local endemites (they can be seen nowhere around the world) 20 of the plant species are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria.
• “Ledenika” – The cave “Ledenika" is one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria – it is identified as Natural Sight of international importance, and it has an overall area - the so called “Ledenishki valog” hollow out of 102 hectares. It is situated 16 km on the West of Vratsa at 820 m above the sea level. It is prominent for its rich morphological forms and formations. 23 cave species live inside the cave. There are 5 species of cave beetles and two species of bats. The cave’s huge size is impressive and during the winter it grabs the visitor with its exquisite icy decoration where the cave’s name came from.
• “Vola” /“Okolchitsa”/ - having an area of 107,7 hectares – it is a historical place of national importance.
• “Zmeiova Dupka” /2 hectares/, Vratsata /2 hectares/ etc. - these are natural sights of regional importance; “Zmejova dupka” is among the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria. It starts with a 32 m deep abyss and there are rimstone lakes on the floor.
• “Ponora" /5 hectares/ - situated on the North of Vratsa in a “Chiren – Lilyashki” karst basin – it is a natural sight of regional importance. The cave is 3500 m long , it has a waterfall and a lake.
• “The God’s Bridge” /15 hectares/ - situated 20 km northwestern of Vratsa in the land of the village of Liliache – it is a natural sight of regional importance;
|Vrachanski Balkan||Eco-Trail||Cave “Ledenika”|
Natural sights of national importance are also the following:
- The area “Vratsata” where one can see the impressive rocky massif called “Dolomitite” where national and international climbing competitions are held. More than 116 alpine routes have been traced of difficulty class 4. The sheer cliffs here are unique for Europe at this altitude /their hight reaches 400 m and they are aceessible only to climbers. They are one of the most popular climbing landmarks in Bulgaria. “Vratsata” is a narrow rocky gorge situated on the northeatern slopes of the Vratsa Mountain. For many years Vratsata has been of great interest to tourists and local people. The gorge Vratsata is only a half kilometre away from Vratsa and it is an attractive location not only for all the admirers of nature and tourists, but climbers as well. Those who like the adrenaline rush may enjoy jumping with a parachute from "Okolchitsa" hut.
- The highest waterfall in the country is the “Skaklya” waterfall - 141 m high it is situated about 2 km to the South of Vratsa in a picturesque area. The waterfall is impressive with its magnetichnost and beauty.
- Memorial Complex “Botev Pat” – Unique in the world - it is a 120 km long alley starting from the legendary steamer “Radetski”, a ship-museum now, on the riverbank of Danube at Kozloduy, through the villages of Butan (the Butan’s Inn) – Sofronievo – Borovan – Banitsa – Milin Kamak – Rechka, to the place where Hristo Botev was killed in the “Yolkovitsa” area in Vratsa’s Balkan. Botev’s steps have been followed each year, since 1946 by hundreds of mountaineers from all over the country who march to honour the feat and the immortality of the heroes, to pay due respect to the monuments in connection with the battles of Botev and his detachment of 200 rebels. It implemented with the support of the State agency for Youth and Sports, Bulgarian Tourist’s Union, Botev’s Committee at the Municipality of Vratsa, Tourist’s Association “Veslets”, and Memorial Complex “Botev Pat”
- Among the most beautiful and longest ski slopes in the country is the one above the “Purshevitsa” Hut, at `1300 m above the sea level, which is also equipped with a ski lift.
|Gorge “Vratsata”||Waterfall “Skaklia”||The Area “Vola”||Botev path|