Knjaževac - Little Venice in eastern Serbia.

The Old Mountain

The image with the text

There are stories that the ancient peoples struggled terribly to decipher and explain the mountains of the Balkans. In Greek mythology, atlases are mentioned, which support the heavens, and the legend also says that the largest and most beautiful “soha neboska” is the Old mountain-roof of Serbia. Without it, it is believed, the heavens would collapse to earth and its inhabitants.

Stara planina is a natural border between Serbia and Bulgaria. From its highest peak, Mižora (2169 meters), you cannot see “all the seas of the Balkans”, as the legends tell, but you can see endless pastures, gold-bearing streams, old forests, wild blueberry plantations. On a clear morning, the view goes all the way to the blue Danube.

Freedom, infinity and beauty are the words used to describe Stara planina. Not even modern times could do anything to her. It kept its secrecy, its sacred places, ancient customs. Mountaineers and adventurers, adventurers and naturalists, young and old, return to it again and again, unable to agree on which season it is most beautiful. They agree on one thing: when you “conquer” Midjor in the tiniest bit, and there is nothing above you but a glowing ball of the sun, you have the feeling that you are free to do whatever you want.

Stara planina has a wonderful climate and in summer it is a real pleasure to walk on it. Fragrant grasses, the trembling of the old mountain mother-of-pearl, the butterfly that lives only here, the air purified by the sudden summer rain “on the clouds” and the breath of pine… Around you, yarrow grass, St. John’s wort, thyme, numerous species of orchids and as a cherry on top of the cake- drizzle, a carnivorous plant, whose food is insects.

If you’ve never been, imagine how hundred-year-old forests, ridges, mountain streams and waterfalls of incredible beauty stretch out for kilometers around you. It is Stara planina. Herds of horses come to the well and you can hear the leaves moving in the gentle breeze. The highest peak, Midjora, is easy to reach, as it is flat and gentle. However, at more than two thousand meters, the weather changes quickly, so the walkers, setting off in the sun, are often met by a snow flurry.

The system of cable cars and trails with built accommodation capacities has contributed to Stara Planina becoming a valuable tourist area. On the heights around Midžor and Baba’s tooth, snow lingers for 150 days a year, and in sheltered places it sometimes remains until June. Trails “Konjarnik” and “Sunčana dolina” with a four-seater wire and the first gondola in Serbia are used during the winter by up to 1500 skiers per hour. At the location “Jabučko ravnište” is the first gondola in Serbia, which transports skiers from this location to the further system of cable cars and slopes. On the Apple plain there is also a children’s ski kindergarten with a conveyor belt. In order to be able to enjoy winter sports even in case of lack of natural snow, the ski center has an artificial snow system. In addition to classic skiers, Stara Planina has been discovered by the more “extreme” ones, so it is more and more often a “target” for those who enjoy snowboarding.