Strandzha Nature Park

Taking around Strandzha, at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, at the southeast point of the Balkan Peninsula, the sensation of discovery begins with the first steps. Amongst the centuries-old forests of the mysterious mountain, the inspiration and the sense of freedom unfold at every turn, as the green hills, marked by the signs of millennial history.

The trip to Strandzha Nature Park restores the roads to the lost east, reveals the biological treasury of Kolhida, preserved plant and animal species from a few million years ago and became their only home in Europe.

Here live people who for thousands of years, from generation to generation, transmit rituals, faith and self-confidence that Strandzha is blessed by God.

Strandzha Nature Park is the largest protected area in Bulgaria and offers the unique chance to see the largest preserved deciduous forest complex in Europe. Only here on the mainland are the typical for the end of the Tertiary forests ( from 1 million years ago).

The forests cover more than 80% of the area of the Park. Their average age is 30 years higher than the average for the country, and the over 100 years old forests are 30% of the forests in the protected territory - three times the average for the country! In the natural massifs of old forests - the most valuable conservation habitats - trees of eastern bourgeois, oak, eastern beech and Strandzha oak with diameters of 1.5 - 2.0 m and age over 500 years can be seen.

In the Nature Park you can get to know the greatest diversity of amphibian reptiles in Europe, come to the remains of Thracian tombs, enjoy the blooming green in May, swim in crystal clear rivers, enjoy the archaic folklore customs and traditions surviving from pagan antiquity and preserved with love by people all over the mountain.

All this amazing natural and cultural and historical heritage is located in the Strandzha Nature Park, part of the still pristine mountain.

Read more about Strandzha Nature park here.

Tourist routes: http://www.strandja.bg/en/info/53-turisticheski-marshruti-en

Events:

Festival of the Zelenika

Every year in May, the Zelenika Festival gathers friends from all over Bulgaria and foreign guests. The Park Administration organizes opportunities for new hiking trails in the mountain, cognitive talks about the Strandzha forest, camping tent or in the hospitable local houses, a bazaar with traditional Strandzha products, pottery and art workshops and many other attractions typical for the region.

The festival is funded by the Executive Agency for Forests and the Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Local Development Project in the Strandzha Mountain of the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the financial mechanism of the European Economic Area.

Fire-dancing ritual - June 3, Bulgari village

The direct cultural continuity in Strandzha is the reason why this pagan ritual, which dates back to the Thracian times, still preserves its basic features. More than two millennia ago, the Thracian kings, who were also supreme priests, were the only ones entitled to come in contact with the gods, make requests and inquiries to them, and then be deified after their death. Before entering the sacred place, the king-priest danced with his closest aristocrats, his mysts. Only he played on the fire of the fire burning in front of the heroon's door (the heroic temple - the royal predecessor). Entry into the fire linked him to the gods to inquire them. After this contact, he went out to his people and announced the divine will and purpose.

Reflections of this ritual are observed in the modern nestinar games in Strandja. Only the initiates who are obsessed with the spirit of the saint play the embers. Among them, only the chief fire-dancer or fire-dancer, carrying the icon of Constantine the divine king, the hero, can come in contact with him and make requests to people. Only he can pass on the answers to those who expect them. He is the resurrected Thracian king-priest in his role of mediator - a mediator between the two worlds and the chief prophet.

Today, in the village of Bulgari, the amazing dance on the fire is just one echo of those ancient celebrations and rituals. However, the great fiery mystery keeps its pulling power so far.