The Balkan Mountains are mountain ranges located in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkans region of Eastern and Southeastern Europe draws its name from these mountains. The Balkan range runs eastwards from the Serbian border with Bulgaria through central Bulgaria ending at Cape Emine in the Black Sea. The highest point of the Balkan Mountains, peak Botev, is located in central Bulgaria. This peak stands at 7,795 feet above sea level.
Type of Mountain
The Balkan mountain range is a young fold mountain range. Fold Mountains are ‘wrinkles’ on the earth’s crust. They are formed where two tectonic plates are moving towards each other. Their collision causes the rocks at their edges to bend forming these folds. The Balkan Mountains together with the Alps and the Himalayas are among the youngest folds mountain ranges in the world. The age of such mountains is derived by estimation of the age of the rocks as well as the height of the mountain. The higher the mountain is, the younger it is likely to be. The Balkan Mountains are predominantly composed of granite rock with small amounts of limestone, shale, and gneiss. A portion of the Balkan relief is characteristic of the Alps.
Size of the Balkan Mountains
The Balkan Mountains range divides Bulgaria into northern and southern halves. Measured from the East to West this mountain range is at least 348 miles long. The Balkan Mountains are divided into three regions: western, central, and eastern. The average height of the range is 2,345 feet above sea level. The Balkan together with its foothills occupies an area of about 9,600 square miles. The Botev peak is the third highest point in Bulgaria after the Rila and Pirin. The Western Balkan rises at the Vrashka Chuka Pass at the Serbian Border. The Midzhur peak standing at 7,046 feet is the highest in this part of the Balkan. Remains of the 9th-century fortress of Vratitsa have been preserved in this area. There are remains of other medieval structures that have been discovered at various points across the span of the Balkan Mountains.
Balkan Mountains in History
Historically the Balkan Mountains have been used for various purposes, especially during war. Since the founding of Bulgaria back in 681, this mountain range acted as a natural fortress for the empire of Bulgaria. On these mountains, there were several battles fought between Bulgarian and Byzantine empires. There are numerous mountain towns on the Balkan Mountains one of them being Kalofer near the highest peak Botev where famous Bulgarian poet Hristo Botev was born. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, four battles were fought at the Shipka Pass ending Turkish rule in this region. A Russian Orthodox Church was erected in the village of Shipka in commemoration of the Bulgarian and Russian bravery in defense of the pass.
Tourism in the Balkans
The Balkan Mountains are a popular travel destination for tourists. The mountains present a picturesque scenery with their expansive alpine meadows, glacial lakes, rare flora, and fauna. Tourism in the Balkan mountain range is greatly facilitated by the presence of multiple resorts nestled within the mountains. There are also various villages in the mountains with warm hospitality, friendly locals, and a vibrant culture.