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Geography

Sunrise over small village in Rhodope Mountain. Bulgaria.The Rhodope mountains (part of the Rhilo-Rhodope massif) are a mountain range in the southeastern part of the Balkan peninsula. About 83% of their territory is in Bulgaria and rest is in Greece. They cover 14,370 kilometers, and they are the largest mountain range in Bulgaria.

The Rhodopes highest peak is Golyam Perelik and sits 2,191 meters above the sea level with an average altitude of 795 meters. Other well-known peaks are Snejanka (1,926 meters), Shirokolashki snezhnik (2,188 meters), and Turla (1,800 meters). The Rhodope mountains are categorized into three separate pasts: the Western Rhodopes, which is the biggest and highest part, the Eastern Rhodopes, that is rich with mineral waters, and the Southern or Greek Rhodopes, which is the smallest.

The mountains are 240 kilometers long and between 100 and 120 kilometers wide, positioned between the Thracian plain on the north and Thracian sea in the south.

The climate is mild, and it is determined by the cold northern air that comes from middle Europe and warmer air that comes from the southern seas. This well-balanced climate has made the Rhodopes one of the places in Europe with the most diverse flora and fauna. The Rhodope mountain forests are UNESCO world heritage sites and are classified in all science books about nature, and are regarded as special form of forest and natural treasure. The forest covers most of the mountains and you can find all sorts of trees: species like hornbeam, European beech, oaks are in lower areas, and as you go higher, you can see many different sorts of pine, silver and Bulgarian fir and Norway spruce. Also, there are big areas of karst and gorges which are big tourist attractions and are nature wonders. The most famous is Trigrad Gorge. In that karst areas, there are many caves, full of unique sights, such as lakes or rivers that disappear in rocks and appear somewhere else from ground. Uhlovica, Yagodinska and Snejaka are most popular, and some of the oldest caves in Europe.

Autumn Rhodope Mountains BulgariaThe Rhodope mountain region is rich with water. You can find springs in every part of Rhodope, streams and rivers are often seen. Small lakes, some 1,500 meters above the sea level, are surrounded by woods of Norway spruce and are astonishing places and once you have seen them, you will instantly fall in love. The most known lakes are Smyolan lakes, near the town called the same. Most of these lakes are glacial and you have some of them which are not surrounded by forest because they are in Alpine zone and in that areas climate is very cold and rough, but these are just a little part of this mountains.

Almost 80 percent of mountain area is in Maritsa river drainage, and because of this terrain configuration hydro-plants are very common here, such as Dospat, Batak, and Golyam. There are fifteen reserves in the area of Rhodope mountains and some of them are under UNESCO protection, which undoubtedly is proof that this region is rich with nature. That is just one reason why you must visit this beautiful place.

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