To me it looks like a radar station, or maybe it is a part of the meteorological station? It is situated on Mt. Malak Rezen, on the way to Cerni Vrh. Whatever it is, it's a nice motif for a photo. And maybe somebody can help me with more info?
Do you love snow? If yes, you can see some even in mid-July! There is some hardened snow left on northern slopes. We came across a patch on the way down to Aleko. As you can see on the pic, you can walk on snow, dressed in shorts! And I didn't feel cold at all, after all, it was 25'C...
If you're climbing Cherny Vruh, don't forget your zoom lens. The views are great from all sides of the top, so make sure you go around. On one side, you can see Rila mountain, still covered in snow here and there. On the other side, you can see a big blue lake in the distance. On the side of the pub you can see Sofia down in the valley. Zoom in, and you'll be able to see some of Sofia's landmarks: NDK, Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the big parks, the street grid... You can also see other parts of Vitosha, some stone rivers, fieeds, forests, distant hills...
In short, get your camera ready the moment you mount the gondola/chair-lift or start climbing!
Takes around 2 hours from Aleko, there are several trails, some very steep, some easier. The views are worth it. On the top, there's a small pub at the Meteorological station, where you can also bring your own food but I recommend the traditional mountain pub "cuisine" : bean soup, lentis soup, real herbal tea... Enjoy the fresh air, spectacular views, stone rivers...
There are buses leaving from Hladilnika Bus-stop. One goes to Simeonovo where you can take the gondolla to Aleko (there's a shelter, restaurants, skiing facilities there). Another goes to Moreni Hotel from where you can walk to Aleko. Also you can take a bus to Dragalevtsi and take the chair-lift from there. Buses are more regular on weekends.
If you take the short cut to the top you have to be very careful. The last time we went with VT members Rusket, Childish, Backpackermoose, Sheep&Co in July 2006. On the way back we took a shortcut down a steep, rocky and muddy path. Unfortunately, Marit slipped and fell, hiting her leg on a rock. Good thing she didn't break anything. So if the path is muddy, bettter take the longer, but safer, trail!!
This tip is meant for my friend Pocketpiglet, cause he is so fond of bungyjumping. As you can see I was only testing, cause I had no rope. Looks like it is not high enough for me. But Piglet is a lot smaller, so I guess this would be a nice place for him to jump.
There are more than 1500 species of plants within the boundaries of the national park. Some of them are endemic, and some endangered. Especially this high the flora is vulnerable. So dont pick any, and take care where you put down your foot / drive your bike!
The moraines, also called stone rivers, are typical for Vitosha National Park. The largest ones are up to 2 km in length and 50 m in width.There are eight of them, left by anxient glaciers. Many of the granite rocks are rounded by natural forces. The most spectacular one is said to be the one in the Zlatni Mostove area (Golden Bridges). The ones on my pictures are from the area around Cerni Vrh / Aleko.
The meteorological station on top Cerni Vrh was finished in 1935, and is still in use. But it also serves as a shelter in case of bad weather, there is a restaurant serving excellent bulgarian food (see restaurant tips) and the mountain rescue service has a base there. Start and stop point for many hiking and mountain biking trails.
This monument near Cerni Vrh must be for Aleko Konstantinov, writer and democrat: The nickname he gave himself in one of his short stories, Shastlivetsa (The Lucky Man) is written under the relief face on the rock, and the square plaque down right of the relief is a memorial of 100 years of tourism, 1895 - 1995. Konstantinov invited people to climb Cerni Vrh, and 27 august 1895 300 of them did, which is considered the beginning of mountain tourism in Bulgaria. But what is the meaning of the years (numbers) 1899 - 1959? The man was born 1 january 1863, and was assassinated 23 may 1897! I would appreciate help to clarify this, from locals or others!
(Pics 2 & 3 are closeups of the same motif.)
Cherni Vrah (meaning The Black Peak) is the highest peak of Vitosha mountain (2290m) and the 4th highest one in Bulgaria.
It is easily reached form Sofia. There are a lot of routes leading to Cherni Vrah from different parts of Vitosha mountain but the most popular one is the route from Aleko. How to get to Aleko see my transportation tips. From Aleko there is a route to Cherni vryh but we usually take a shortcut and the whole journey takes about 1.5h (using the shortcut; on the road it is a bit longer). Of course, you can take the lift from Aleko to Cherni Vrah too.
Usually it is very windy and most of the time it is clowdy there. The weather changes there very fast so I recommend you to get up early if you want to go there. And put on properly clothers and shoes.
On the top you may have sun bath, climb the rocks, enjoy the views, take pictures, and have bean soup (the last one is a must).
This is my favourite route in Vitosha.
How to get there with the public transportation:
Take the tram No 5 from the Court House to Knjazhevo -get down the last stop. You need about 30min to get there. There is a mineral water spring next to the stop.
From Knjazhevo you start climbing. Follow the mark shown on the picture. You need about 40 min to get to another spring called 'Bjalata vode' ('The White Water') and may have rest there.
Then go on to the Zlatnite mostove (Golden bridges).
The main attraction there is the stone river, called Moreni.
Total time climbing and getting down: about 4hrs (if you walk slowly)
The route is sutable for childen and seniors or at least it stays so in the labels on the route.
See also my travelogue for more pictures.
Take the chair-lift and ride over beautifully coloured trees. On the way to Cherny vrah you can also see some red-and -yellow fieelds and forests. The mountain is really great in all seasons, there's always something to enjoy:
Climbing, picnicking, herb-collecting in summer
Climbing, enjoying colours in autumn
Skiing and other winter sports in winter
Climbing or some skiing, enjoying new greenery....
See the power of nature!
These stone rivers were formed thousands or millions years ago as the snow melted and rolld down. In Bulgarian they ar called 'moreni' (morrains?).
There are several stone rivers, some near Aleko, and some near Zlatnite mostove areas.
There you can freely collect a lot of kinds of herbs. So take a few bags with you and you can pick some herbs while going around. The most popular herbs are: thyme (for colds), St.John's wort ( colds, depression), colt's foot ( sore throat), wild strawberries (vitamins and flavour), etc. The season is June and July. If you don't know anything about herbs, most probably there'll be some grannies picking too, so you can ask them and they'll show you what to pick. After that spread plants on a sheet of paper to dry for a day or two. Store in a dry place and enjoy when winter comes. Tea is best served with honey!
When it gets colder, enjoy your own herbal tea.
You can even take your bike, or have your skis on in the winter. Prepare your camera to take some nice pics. Dress well: it's chilly up there even in the summer.
Ass you can see on the additional photos, there are also other means of getting to Vitosha :)