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Pirin is the most beautiful and most Alpine type of mountain in Bulgaria. It is the second highest after the Rila mountain (in Bulgaria) and third in the Balkan peninsula (after Olympus of Greece Mt. Mitika, 2917 metres). Pirin is situated in the south-western part of the country and has covered the south-western corner of the Rila-Rhodope mountain massif. It is rather extended in shape to the north-west and south-east and is flanked by the rivers Struma and Mesta.

The mountain has had different names through the centuries. From the Thracian Orbelus (Orbel), meaning snowy mountain, through the old Slavic Judenitsa (meaning the fairies, which in the minds of the common people populated the mountains). Then came the later Slavia name Perun, connected with God Perun, who - according to the Slavic mythology - was supposed to have resided on Mt. Vihren and to have send fire in the form of lightning and thunder. The Turkish name it acquired later, Beride, means spread out. According to the latest research, the name Pirin comes from the Haetic  perunash - meaning the rock and the Thracian Perintus or Pirintos.

The mountain is formed predominantly from two types of rocks - granite and marble - which have so interwoven at some locations that the borders between them divide peaks, cirques and even lakes. Due to the prolonged freezing period of the quarterner, Pirin has acquired an Alpine relief - rocky peaks and cliffs, deep cirques, well shaped glacier valleys and numerous lakes.

Pirin has the typical climate of a mountain but with a well-expressed Mediterranean influence, mainly through the valleys of the Struma and Mesta rivers. This is why Pirin is the mountain with the greatest number of sunny days throughout the year in comparison to Rila, Stara Planina, Vitosha and Osogovo. The average annual temperature in the area of the Vihren Chalet (at an altitude of about 2000 metres above sea level) is 3.7C, the average temperature in January is 4.2C below zero while in August it reaches 12.8C. Precipitation (predominantly snowfalls) is higher in November and December and least in August. The average rain and snowfall at Mt. Vihren is within 1500 to 1600 millimetres per square meter annually. It is cloudy mostly in May and December. The dominating winds in winter are those from the north-west and during the summer - from the south-western direction.

Pirins borders (clock-wise) are: to the north - the Rila Mountain along the banks of the rivers Gradevska, Elovitsa and Kulina, the Predela Saddle (1142 metres above sea level) and the Rablevska River. To the east it is the Razlog Valley, the Momina Klisura Pass and the Gotse Delchev Plain - the valley of Mesta River divides Pirin from the Rodopes. To the south, the border of the Pirin Mountain goes initially along the banks of the rivers Matnitsa and Burovitsa, which separate it from the Stargach and Slavyanka mountains while the Paril Pass (1170 metres above sea level) separates the mountain from Slavyanka with the help of the rivers Goleshevska and Kalimanska. To the west, Pirin shares a border with the Petrich Plain, the Kresna Pass and the Simitli Plain - the bank of the Struma River separates it from our western national border - the maintains Ograzhden, Malashevska and Vlahina.

The overall area of the Pirin Mountain is about 1210 square kilometres. In spite of this modesty of dimension and well formed upper ridge, it is divided into three parts - Northern Pirin, Mid-Pirin and Southern Pirin. Borders between them are the two saddles of the central ridge of the mountain - Todorova Polyana  (1883 metres above sea level) and Popovi Livadi  (Papaz Chair - 1430 metres above the sea).

Northern Pirin is the biggest in area (74% of the overall area of the mountain), the longest (42 km birds flight), the highest, the most spectacular and the most visited of the three. There are sixty peaks at an altitude of above 2500 metres. The highest of them is Mt. Vihren (2914 m) and Mt. Kutelo is the second above 2900 m (2908 m). There are aslo Mt. Banski Suhodol (2884 m), Mt. Golyam Polezhan (2851 m), Mt. Malak Polezhan (2822 m), Mt. Kamenitsa (2822 m), Mt. Bayuvi Dupki (2820 m) and some others as well as the unique Koncheto Karst Edge (The Small Horse), which does not fall below 2810 metres. Along the Northern Pirin karst and granite ridges flow one after another but the three highest peaks and the Koncheto Edge are to be found on the main karst plateau edge, together with some other high and interesting side ridges - Stapalata, Sredonos, Koteshki Chal, Tsarnomogilski Chal. From the central ridge, Northern Pirin branches in four directions. From the north Sinanitsa branch, which bears the name of the most spectacular and most often visited of all Pirin peaks, the Mt. Sinanitsa (2516 m). The higher peak along the Sinanitsa branch of the mountain is Mt. Georgiitsa (2589 m); Todorino mountain branch with the higherst Mt. Todorin (2746 m) along the side-slopes of which are the best ski-tracks in Pirin; the Polezhan branch with the highest Mt. Golyam Polezhan (2851 m) and with one of the most beautiful peaks Mt. Dzhengala (2730 m); Mt. Strazhite (The Guards) (2810 m), Mt. Gazei (2761), Mt. Disilitsa (2700 m); the Kamenishko branch with the highest Mt. Kamenitsa (2822 m), which is spectacular and somehow full of a specific grandeur with its two peaks, Mt. Malka Kamenitsa (2679 m), Mt. Yalovarnika (2763 m), Mt. Zabat (2688 m) and Mt. Kuklite (2686 m).

This part of Pirin hosts all glacial lakes (140 - 150 in number) where among the most interesting lake groups are the Banderishki Ezera, Vasilashki Ezera, Georgiiski Ezera, Vlahinski Ezera, Valyavishki Ezera, Kremenski Ezera, Samodivski Ezera and Gazeiski Ezera (ezera meaning lakes). The biggest lake in Pirin is the Popovoto (Papazgyol) - 124 decares - which is also the deepest - 29.5 metres. The glacial lake at the highest altitude in the Balkan Peninsula is the Gorno Polezhansko Ezero (at 2710 metres). Tevnoto Ezero is of particular interest not only with its position, dimensions and beauty but also with its historical significance - it is thus one of the symbols of the Pirin Mountain.

Northern Pirin is the place where one can find almost all kinds of boarding facilities (with the exception of only two tourist chalets). The area hosts 12 chalets and 4 shelters, which are at the disposal of mountaineers and tourists the year-round. Marking (winter and summer) is exceptionally clear and perfectly maintenained.

The smallest part of the Pirin Mountain is the Mid-Pirin sector, which amounts to 6.7% of the overall area. It is also the shortest and in its greater part is covered with broadleaf vegetation. Here is the kingdom of the Pirin tea, which grows along the highest and barren parts of the mountain. The highest peak in Mid-Pirin is Mt. Orelyak (Eagle) (2099 m) where at present a television transmission tower is in operation. Seen from the west, it looks like an eagle, with wings open and ready for flight. Other peaks of interest are Mt. Baba, Mt. Chala, Mt. Senoto, Mt. Murata - all below 2000 metres. The southern part of this sector is marble-based while the northern part lies over granite. There are no lakes here. Only 2 chalets give shelter to visitors - Popovi Livadi Chalet (Papazchair) and Malina Chalet. The only marked track passes close by the ridge of the Mid-Pirin.

Southern Pirin lies over an area, amounting to 19.3% of the overall area. This is the lowest, most rounded and most rarely visited part of the mountain. Its highest parts are covered in coniferous trees (spruce, pine-trees), sometimes accompanied by broadleaf (oak trees). The highest peak is Mt. Sveshtnik (Chandelier) (1975 m), followed by Mt. Motorog (1970 m), Mt. Ushite (The Ears), Mt. Sarapelya, etc. The mountain lays over granite in its central part and marble along the periphery. No lakes can be found here and no boarding facilities. There is only one marked mountain track between the Popovi Livadi Chalet and the village of Petrovo as part of the international E-4 highway.

Pirin rivers gather their waters from its snow-white peaks and blue lakes to pour them into the Struma or Mesta rivers. The main ridge of the mountain is the division line between these two big Bulgarian rivers. Some bigger tributaries of the Struma from north to south are the rivers: Vlahinska, Sandanska Bistritsa, Melnishka Reka and Pirinska Bistritsa (the longest river springing out of Pirin). The rivers that flow into the Mesta (north to south) are: Bela Reka, Iztok (collecting the greater part of the underground waters of the karst ridge), Glazne (flowing under this name after the spot where Banderishka and Demyanishka rivers merge their waters), Disilitsa, Retizhe

(the beginning of which starts at the biggest Pirin lake - the Papazgyol), the Kameniza, Breznishka and Matnitsa rivers.

Because of the unique nature of the Pirin Mountain, in 1976 the Pirin National Park was found to cover - at present - nearly the whole of Northern Pirin to an area of some 40 000 hectares. Due to its extraordinary value and importance far outside of the country, in 1983 UNESCO decided to include the Pirin National Park as a biospere National Park in the convention on the protection of the worlds cultural and natural heritage. Three are three biospere reserves in Pirin, as well: Bayuvi Dupki - Dzhindzhiritsa (within the National Park), Tissata (in Northern Pirin, too) and Orelek (Mid-Pirin).

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