The Eastern Balkan begins at the Vratnik or Zhelezni Vrata (Iron Gate) Pass and ends at the Black Sea. The most attractive site in this section is the Sinite Kamani (Blue Rocks) Natural Park in the Sliven Balkan (6684.3 hectares or 26 miles2) with its interesting rock formations. The most popular route in this area is the well-marked route along the Kom-Emine Ridge, which is part of the European mountain hiking thoroughfare E-3. This is the longest footpath for mountain hiking not just in Bulgaria, but in all the Balkans. It is 650 km (400 miles) long and is a true challenge to tourists. Numerous chalets, tourists’ dormitories, and shelters allow for traversing the full length without carrying bivouac equipment or food for more than 2-3 days. The normal length of time for the traverse is 24-25 days during the summer with 2-3 days of rest and 28-30 days by ski during the winter.

The Balkan Mountains is Bulgaria’s mountain of rebellion. During the turbulent years of Ottoman oppression it was a fortress and symbol of the Bulgarian national spirit. It sheltered beautiful villages and small cities, historical monuments and monasteries on its slopes and in its valleys. Its spiritual wealth is due to the Chiprovtsi, Klisura, Sopot, Kalofer, Glozhene, Shipka, DryanovoKilifarevo, and Kapinovo monasteries and dozens of other Christian sanctuaries. The combination of natural and cultural-and-historical landmarks makes it a popular tourist location. Around 100 holiday homes and dormitories give shelter during all four seasons of the year. The tourist routes circle the mountains and are measured in thousands of kilometers. There are ideal conditions for skiing, rock-climbing, mountain hiking, hang gliding, caving, etc.

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