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Stara Planina

Stara planina is also known as the Balkan. It is the longest, the biggest and also the most Bulgarian of all mountains. It extends throughout the entire length of the country - from the Bulgarian border with Serbia to the Black Sea coast. Being 550 kilometres long, like the back-bone of a fish it is such an inseparable part of the country and its history that it has long become emblematic of Bulgaria, fortress of the national spirit. The highest peak Mt. Botev - is at 2376 metres above sea level and ranks third in Bulgaria. Stara Planina divides Bulgaria in two - Northern and Southern Bulgaria.

The name Stara Planina is derived from the age of our lands (translated as the old mountain). Some of the older names, which have come to us are: Haimon, Haimos, Hemus  (of Thracian origin) meaning ridge, division line, border. In later time different parts of the mountain acquire individual names - Srebarna Planina (Silver Mountain), Matornie Gori, Zigos, Imm.

The name Stara Planina appears for the first time in 1533 in the notes of the Dalmacian traveller Antun Vranchich. The name Balkan, however, is older and there are several theories about its actual origin. In spite of the fact that this is not an official name, it has become the most popular since the last centuries. It is from the name Balkan that the name of the whole Balkan Peninsula is derived - often referred to with the collective the Balkans.

In spite of the meaning of its name (old), as a geological formation this mountain is comparatively young. It is based on granite but there also are lime, gneiss and schist. In contrast to Rila and Pirin, only the highest parts of the mountain were covered with glaciers. The lack of completed cirques and the existence of a single lake of glacier origin is the most obvious proof of this theory. Part of the relief of Stara Planina, however, is decisively Alpine.

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