Rila is a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and the highest mountain range of Bulgaria and the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, with its highest peak being Musala
Musala is the highest peak in Bulgaria and the entire Balkan Peninsula, standing at 2,925 m . The summit of the Rila mountain in southwestern Bulgaria, Musala is the highest peak between the Alps and the Caucasus and the highest in Eastern Europe bar the Caucasus.Between 1949–1962 the peak was...

 at 2,925 m. The massif is also the sixth highest mountain in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 (when each mountain is represented by its highest peak only), coming after the Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, the Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

, Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada (Spain)
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the region of provinces of Granada and Almería in Spain. It contains the highest point of continental Spain, Mulhacén at 3478 m above sea level....

, the Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 and Mount Etna
Mount Etna
Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe, currently standing high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m higher than it was in 1981.. It is the highest mountain in...

, and the highest between the Alps and the Caucasus. The larger part of the mountain is occupied by the Rila National Park.

The name Rila is believed to be of Thracian
Thracian language
The Thracian language was the Indo-European language spoken in ancient times in Southeastern Europe by the Thracians, the northern neighbors of the Ancient Greeks. The Thracian language exhibits satemization: it either belonged to the Satem group of Indo-European languages or it was strongly...

 origin and is thought to mean "well-watered mountain", owing to Rila's abundance of glacial lake
Glacial lake
A glacial lake is a lake with origins in a melted glacier. Near the end of the last glacial period, roughly 10,000 years ago, glaciers began to retreat. A retreating glacier often left behind large deposits of ice in hollows between drumlins or hills. As the ice age ended, these melted to create...

s (about 200) and hot spring
Hot spring
A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth's crust. There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the crust of the earth.-Definitions:...

s in fault areas at the base of the mountain. Some of the Balkans' longest and deepest rivers originate from Rila, including the Maritsa
The Maritsa or Evros , ) is, with a length of 480 km, the longest river that runs solely in the interior of the Balkans. It has its origin in the Rila Mountains in Western Bulgaria, flowing southeast between the Balkan and Rhodope Mountains, past Plovdiv and Parvomay to Edirne, Turkey...

, the Iskar and the Mesta
Mesta River
The Nestos or Mesta , formerly the Mesta Karasu , is a river in Bulgaria and Greece. It rises in the Rila Mountains and flows into the Aegean Sea near the island of Thasos. It plunges down towering canyons toward the Aegean Sea through mostly metamorphic formations...


Culturally, Rila is famous for the Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of above sea level...

, Bulgaria's largest and most important monastery founded in the 10th century by Saint John of Rila.


Rila is a dome-shaped horst mountain, part of the Balkans' oldest land, the Macedono-Thracian Massif. It was formed by granite and gneiss
Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-grade regional metamorphic processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks.-Etymology:...

 rocks and crystal schist
The schists constitute a group of medium-grade metamorphic rocks, chiefly notable for the preponderance of lamellar minerals such as micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is...

s during the Paleozoic
The Paleozoic era is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon, spanning from roughly...

 (250,000,000 years ago). Rila's alpine relief was formed during the Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 by a series of glacial periods. During the most recent, so-called Würm glaciation, 10-12,000 years ago the permanent snow line was at 2,100 m above sea level. Above this line glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s radically changed the existing relief, carving out deep cirques
Cirque (landform)
thumb|250 px|Two cirques with semi-permanent snowpatches in [[Abisko National Park]], [[Sweden]].A cirque or corrie is an amphitheatre-like valley head, formed at the head of a valley glacier by erosion...

, sharp pyramid-shaped peaks, rock pinnacles, various valleys, moraine
A moraine is any glacially formed accumulation of unconsolidated glacial debris which can occur in currently glaciated and formerly glaciated regions, such as those areas acted upon by a past glacial maximum. This debris may have been plucked off a valley floor as a glacier advanced or it may have...

s and other typical glacial formations.

Borders and climate

Rila has an area of 2,400 km². The dome of the mountain rises over the surrounding mountain valleys, with the Borovets Saddle (1,305 m) connecting the main Musala Ridge with the Shipchan and Shumnitsa ridges that connect to the Ihtiman Sredna Gora
Sredna Gora
Sredna Gora is a mountain range in central Bulgaria, situated south of and parallel to Balkan mountain range and extending from the river Iskar to the west and the elbow of Tundzha north of Yambol to the east. Sredna Gora is 285 km long, reaching 50 km at its greatest width...

 mountains through the Gate of Trajan
Gate of Trajan
The Gate of Trajan or Trajan's Gate is a historic mountain pass near Ihtiman, Bulgaria. It was named so after Roman Emperor Trajan, on whose order a fortress by the name of Stipon was constructed on the hill over the pass, as a symbolic border between the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia.The pass...

 pass. The Yundola Saddle (1,375 m) and the Abraham Saddle (1,295 m) link Rila with the Rhodopes to the east, while the connection with Pirin
The Pirin Mountains are a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria, with Vihren the highest peak, situated at . The range extends about 40 km northwest-southeast, and about 25 km wide. Most of the range is protected in the Pirin National Park...

 is the Predel Saddle (1,140 m), the one with Verila being the Klisura Saddle (1,025 m).

The climate is typically alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

, with 2,000 mm of precipitation on Musala yearly, about half of which is snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

. The lowest average temperature ever measured in February on Musala is –11.6 °C and the absolute minimum is -31.2 °C. An average temperature for August is 5.4 °C, the maximum being 18.7 °C.

Flora & Fauna

The flora of Rila contains three local endemics which are seen only in this mountain. These plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s are Primula deorum
Primula deorum
Primula deorum is a flowering dicot plant of the genus Primula in the primulaceae family. This alpine plant is endemic to roughly 63 km2 above the tree-line in the Rila mountains in Bulgaria, where it grows in small groups in acid, boggy soil near streams and pools and in boggy soil...

(with the largest population), Rheum rhaponticum and Alchemilla pawlowskii. In the mountain thrives also 36 plants as Campanula lanata, Centaurea mannagettae which are endemic for the Balkans. Some of the plant species have survived the last glacial period by turning into relict
A relict is a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon.* In biology a relict is an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but now occurs at only one or a few small areas....

There is also many similar animals. Some of the members of this kingdom
which lives in Rila are in danger. Such animals are Barbus cyclolepis
Barbus cyclolepis
Barbus cyclolepis is a ray-finned fish species in the family Cyprinidae.The Sperchios Barbel , Strumica Barbel and Vistula Barbel are often included in the present species. B. waleckii might, however, actually be a hybridogenic species , perhaps derived from Common Barbel Barbus cyclolepis is a...

(which is rare because of the habitat loss and the river pollution), Triturus alpestris, Spermophilus citellus (European Ground Squirrel) and others.

List of mammals in National park Rila

There are 48 mammal species in National park Rila


Eastern European hedgehog
Eastern European Hedgehog
The Southern White-breasted Hedgehog , sometimes referred to as East European Hedgehog, White-bellied Hedgehog or White-chested Hedgehog, is very similar in lifestyle and appearance to the European Hedgehog, but the former has a white spot on its chest. For a long time these two species were...

A shrew or shrew mouse is a small molelike mammal classified in the order Soricomorpha. True shrews are also not to be confused with West Indies shrews, treeshrews, otter shrews, or elephant shrews, which belong to different families or orders.Although its external appearance is generally that of...


Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...



European rabbit
European Rabbit
The European Rabbit or Common Rabbit is a species of rabbit native to south west Europe and north west Africa . It has been widely introduced elsewhere often with devastating effects on local biodiversity...


• Wild mice

A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars . There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America...

Water vole
The water voles are large voles in the genus Arvicola. They are found in both aquatic and dry habitat through Europe and much of northern Asia...

• Spermophilus citellus


• Grey wolf

Red fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

The martens constitute the genus Martes within the subfamily Mustelinae, in family Mustelidae.-Description:Martens are slender, agile animals, adapted to living in taigas, and are found in coniferous and northern deciduous forests across the northern hemisphere. They have bushy tails, and large...

• European pine marten

Eurasian badger
Eurasian Badger
The European Badger is a species of badger of the genus Meles, native to almost all of Europe. It is classed as Least Concern for extinction by the IUCN, due to its wide distribution and large population....

Least weasel
Least Weasel
The least weasel is the smallest member of the Mustelidae , native to Eurasia, North America and North Africa, though it has been introduced elsewhere. It is classed as Least Concern by the IUCN, due to its wide distribution and presumably large population...

European otter
European Otter
The European Otter , also known as the Eurasian otter, Eurasian river otter, common otter and Old World otter, is a European and Asian member of the Lutrinae or otter subfamily, and is typical of freshwater otters....

Brown bear
Brown Bear
The brown bear is a large bear distributed across much of northern Eurasia and North America. It can weigh from and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak Bear, rivals the polar bear as the largest member of the bear family and as the largest land-based predator.There are several recognized...

Wild cat
Wild cat
The wildcat is a small cat with several subspecies and a very broad distribution, found throughout most of Africa, Europe, and southwest and central Asia into India, China, and Mongolia. It is a hunter of small mammals, birds, and other creatures of a similar or smaller size. Sometimes included is...

Even-toed ungulates

• Wild boar

Roe deer
Roe Deer
The European Roe Deer , also known as the Western Roe Deer, chevreuil or just Roe Deer, is a Eurasian species of deer. It is relatively small, reddish and grey-brown, and well-adapted to cold environments. Roe Deer are widespread in Western Europe, from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, and from...

Red deer
Red Deer
The red deer is one of the largest deer species. Depending on taxonomy, the red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being...

Alpine ibex
Alpine Ibex
The Alpine ibex, , is a species of wild goat that lives in the mountains of the European Alps. In its habitat region, the species is known as bouquetin , steinbock , and stambecco ....

Wild goat
Wild Goat
The wild goat is a widespread species of goat, with a distribution ranging from Europe and Asia Minor to central Asia and the Middle East. It is the ancestor of the domestic goat.-Social structure:...


Rila is subdivided into several parts depending on their geographic position.
  • East Rila or the Musala Ridge is the highest and vastest part. The highest peak, as well as 12 of the 18 peaks over 2,700 m are located there — Musala, Yastrebets, Irechek, Deno Mancho, etc. The Musala Lakes lie in this part of Rila, as well as Ledeno ezero ("Icy Lake"), the highest lake of the Balkans at 2,709 m. Other lakes in East Rila include the Maritsa Lakes and the Ropalitsa Lakes. The renowned mountain resort of Borovets
    Borovets , known as Chamkoria until the middle of the 20th century, is a popular Bulgarian mountain resort situated in Sofia Province, on the northern slopes of Rila, at an altitude of 1350 m...

     is also located in this part of the mountain.
  • Central Rila or the Skakavets Ridge is the smallest part (1/10 of the total area), most famous for the glacial lakes — the Fish Lakes, Dzhendem Lakes, Monastery Lakes. The largest glacial lake of the Balkans, Smradlivo ezero ("Stinky Lake") with an area of 21.2 km² is located in Central Rila, as well as the peaks Kanarata, Cherna polyana, Malak Skakavets and Golyam Skakavets, Rilets. The ridge of the Skakavtsi (the peaks of Golyam Skakavets and Malak Skakavets, Pchelina and Sveti Duh) rises isolated between the Levi and Beli Iskar rivers. Another well-known ridge in the area is the one of Marinkovitsa and Vodniya chal, extending to the forest reserve of Kobilino branishte.
  • Northwest Rila takes up 25% of Rila's total area. The highest peak is Golyam Kupen at 2,731 m. The Seven Rila Lakes
    Seven Rila Lakes
    The Seven Rila Lakes are a group of lakes of glacial origin , situated in the northwestern Rila Mountains in Bulgaria. They are the most visited group of lakes in Bulgaria. The lakes are situated between 2,100 and 2,500 metres elevation above sea level.Each lake carries a name associated with its...

     are an important landmark in this part, as well as the many remote peaks and small lakes.
  • Southwest Rila or the Kapatnik Ridge occupies 30% of Rila and has the oldest reserve of Bulgaria. Apart from its small northern part, Southwest Rila does not have the alpine appearance of the other parts.

Peaks in Rila

  • Musala
    Musala is the highest peak in Bulgaria and the entire Balkan Peninsula, standing at 2,925 m . The summit of the Rila mountain in southwestern Bulgaria, Musala is the highest peak between the Alps and the Caucasus and the highest in Eastern Europe bar the Caucasus.Between 1949–1962 the peak was...

     — 2,925 m
  • Malka Musala (Lower Musala) — 2,902 m
  • Ovcharets (Yurushki chal) — 2,768 m
  • Golyam Kupen — 2,731 m
  • Malyovitsa
    Malyovitsa is a peak and ski resort in the northwestern part of the Rila Mountains in southwestern Bulgaria. It is 2,729 m high and is one of the most popular tourist regions in the mountain. The Rila Monastery is situated at its southern foot, and Malyovitsa Ski Centre — with two downhill...

     — 2,729 m
  • Popova kapa — 2,704 m
  • Malka Malyovitsa — 2,698 m
  • Lopushki vrah — 2,698 m
  • Lovnitsa — 2,695 m
  • Kanarata — 2,691 m
  • Orlovets — 2,685 m
  • Pastri slap (Aladzha slap) – 2,684 m
  • Zliya zab — 2,678 m
  • Eleni vrah — 2,654 m
  • Kovach (Nalbant) vrah - 2,640 m
  • Suha Vapa vrah - 2,638 m
  • Ravni vrah (Ravni chal) — 2,637 m
  • Belmeken — 2,627 m
  • Kamilata — 2,621 m
  • Golyam Mechi vrah — 2,618 m
  • Dvuglav — 2,605 m
  • Golyam Mramorets (Golyam Mermer) — 2,598 m
  • Dodov (Drushlevishki) vrah — 2,597 m
  • Kozi vrah — 2,587 m
  • Iglata — 2,575 m
  • Mechit — 2,568 m
  • Ushite — 2,560 m
  • Ptichi vrah (Ashiklar) — 2,536 m
  • Malak Mechit — 2,535 m
  • Yanchov vrah — 2,481 m
  • Malak Mechi vrah — 2,474 m
  • Strazhnik (Kurdzhilak) — 2,469 m
  • Budachki kamak — 2,447 m
  • Kukov vrah — 2,411 m
  • Tsarev vrah — 2,376 m
  • Ivan Vazov (Damga) — 2,342 m
  • Markov kamak (Gorna Kadiitsa) — 2,342 m
  • Malka Popova kapa — 2,180 m
  • Treshtenik — 2,020 m
  • Angelov vrah
  • Malak Lopushki vrah
  • Malak Mramorets (Malak Mermer)


Rila Point
Rila Point
Rila Point is a low, ice-free point on the south coast of Moon Bay, projecting 330 m west-northwestwards from Burgas Peninsula on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, and forming the east side of the entrance to Bruix Cove...

 on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands
South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands, lying about north of the Antarctic Peninsula, with a total area of . By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Islands' sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are free for use by any signatory for...

, Antarctica is named after Rila Mountain.

Panoramic views

External links

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