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Vitosha is the most visited Bulgarian mountain. It rises immediately above Sofia and is one of the symbols of our capital city. Few are the big cities in the world, and capitals are even fewer, that possess such a natural advantage. Vitosha Mountain is the most significant part of the Plana-Zavala Mountain System. With its highest peak Mt. Cherni Vrah (The Black Peak) (2290 m) it occupies the fourth place among Bulgarian mountains.

Vitosha is the cradle of hiking tourism in Bulgaria. The date 27 August 1895 is considered the beginning of the organised tourist movement in the country. After the invitation of the renowned writer and democrat Aleko Konstantinov 300 men and women then climbed Mt. Cherni Vrah - something incredible and unbelievable in those times. Since then thousands of hikers climb the peak every year on this day.

In ancient times the mountain was named Skomios, Skopios, Skombros, meaning in Old Greek the sharp, steep mountain. These names are preserved in the present name of Mt. Skoparnik. The name Vitosha appeared in the Middle Ages and for the first time it was used in a document from the 11th century. There are two versions about its origin: the first of them says that the name is of Thracian- Old Bulgarian origin and means a binary, dividing mountain; the second (more likely to be true and acceptable) says that Vitosha comes from the personal name Vitosh.

Vitosha is a typical dome-like mountain - one of the few in Bulgaria. It has a slightly prolonged profile from north-west to south-east. It consists primarily of granite rocks, but there are karst rocks as well especially in the southern part. A unique natural phenomenon are the so-called stone rivers (moreni) - piles of huge rounded granite stones along many of the river valleys, reaching up to 2 km in length and 50 m in width. Especially expressive and beautiful are the moreni in the Zlatni Mostove area (Golden Bridges). Similar phenomena can be seen in other Bulgarian mountains, too, the Vitosha moreni however being unique. They are the symbol of the mountain.

Since 1935 a meteorological station has been operating on Mt. Cherni Vrah, with many services, mostly in the chalets. Comparative data about Sofia and Mt. Cherni Vrah weather conditions: the average monthly and annual temperature - for the coldest month - January - in Sofia is 1.7C below zero and on Mt. Cherni Vrah - 8.3C below zero. For the warmest month - July in Sofia - 21.2C and for Mt. Cherni Vrah - August - 9.0C. The average annual temperature in Sofia is 10.5C and at Mt. Cherni Vrah - 0.3C. A characteristic feature of Vitosha climate is the inversion (mostly in December and January). When Sofia is covered by thick fog and cold, the Vitosha Mountain shines in sun and warmth. This happens in an average of 15 days per year. An average of 140 days per year are very cold on Mt. Cherni Vrah - the maximum values in these days are below zero and there are 222 frosty days (when only the minimum temperatures are below zero). The winter in the high parts of the mountain lasts between 5 and 7 months, and truly summer months are only July and August. The average precipitation rate on Mt. Cherni Vrah (mostly snowfalls) is 1178 litres per sq. m. and June is the most rainy month - 142l per sq. m., while September has the lowest precipitation figure  - 71 litres per sq. m. Most thick snow coverage is formed in March. Mt. Cherni Vrah is quite inhospitable, having an average of 250 foggy days in the year and only 50 clear ones and it is one of most windy peaks in Bulgaria. With an average wind speed of 9.3 m/s it occupies the second place among the monitored peaks after Mt. Mourgash in Stara Planina (10.3 m/s) and before Mt. Botev (9.1 m/s) and Mt. Mussala (7.6 m/s). Only 7 per cent of the days on Mt. Cherni Vrah are windless.

Clockwise, the borders of the mountain are as follows: to the north and north-east - the Sofia Plain, to the west - the Egulo-Palakari Saddle (1195 m above sea level) separates the mountain from the Plana Mountain; to the south it reaches to the Samokov Plain, and the Buka Preslav Saddle (1090 m) separates it from Verila Mountain, the next to the west is the Pernik Plain, and to the north-west the border with the Lyulin Mountain passes through the Vladaya Saddle (860 m above sea level). Vitosha has an area of 278 sq. km - 18 and 20 km in length and width. In spite of its expressly compact nature, the mountain is conditionally divided into 4 main ranges - Northern, Eastern, South-Western and North-Western.

The slopes of the Northern Range descend steeply to the Sofia Plain above which dominates Mt. Kamen Del (1862 m above sea level) after which this range is also called the Kamendelski Range. On its turn it is divided into four sub-parts: Vladaya (without expressed peaks, but one of the most popular tourist sites - Zlatnite Mostove is located here); Knyazhevo (here the highest peak of the sector is Mt. Lavcheto (The Small Lion) (2052 m above sea level), as well as the peaks Mt. Sredets (1969 m), Mt. Chernata Skala (The Black Rock) (1869 m), Mt. Kopitoto (1348 m with the TV-tower); Dragalevtsi - with the two-headed alpine peak Mt. Kominite (1620 m), Mt. Ushite (1960), Mt. Kamen Del and others) and Simeonovo sub-part with no distinct peaks. There is a cabin cableway to the Aleko Challet.

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