Roussenski Lom National Park
The National Park (NP) of Roussenski Lom is situatedin the nord-east of Bulgaria, at about 20 km south of the city of Rousse. In the transition from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene (Glacial Period) the 2500 m thick limestone layers were slowly horizontally uplifted. That forced the river to cut its bed up to 100 m into the rock. The outcome is a remarkably beautiful meandering gully. It seems that all of a sudden you turn out to be in the mountains - an unusual experience in the Danubian Plain.
The area was pronounced a National Park in 1970.
It covers 3200 hectares of land along the anyon-like valley of the Roussenski Lom, the last right feeder of the Danube.
The Directorate of the Park works in close cooperation with the WWF.
The vegetation is luxuriant and fascinating. The forest is of mid-European species mainly, with some representatives of southern plants. It is formed of about 60 kinds of trees and shrubs. In the inner sides of the curves one can mainly find purely sub-Mediterranean shrubs, the Eastern Hornbeam prevailing. Along with them one can also see Christ Thorn, Mahaleb Cherry, Manna (Flowering) Ash, Turkey Oak, Common Lilac, Sumach, Dwarf Almond, Almond-leafed Pear a.o. Among the herbaceous species (about 1000) there is an unusual number of southern representatives - immigrants from the steppes as well as rock dwellers such as Stipa joannis, Steppe Feather Grass, Dwarf Iris, Paronychia capitata, a member of the Pink family and many others.
The wild life is even richer than the flora. Endless is the diversity of invertebrates. Scolopendras and Carpathian Scorpions live under the stones. Especially impressive are species like Oryctes nasicornis, Lucanus cervus, Cerambyx cerdo and Yellow-headed Scolia. 22 species of fish live in the river. The valley is populated by 9 species of amphibiens, 3 species of turtles, 9 species of lizards and 7 species of snakes; in general, about 20 species of reptiles can be found there. One can see the European Glass Lizard, the Caspian Whip Snake, the Aesculapian Snake and the Nose-horned Viper. The biggest treasure of the Park are the birds. Over 190 species have been registered to dwell in the valley, about 110 of them breeding there. The rest are winter visitors or more or less occasional guests. Most interesting are the rock dwellers. Among them are many birds registered as endangered species in the whole Europe, like the Egyptian vulture, the Golden Eagle, the Short-toed Eagle, the Lesser Kestrel, the Ruddy Shelduck, the Great Eagle Owl. There are also birds that have surprisingly started to expand their distribution: the Long-legged Buzzard, the Red-rumped Swallow, the Crag Martin, the Spanish Sparrow. While in mid-Europe the Black Stork builds nests in the trees, in Bulgaria its nests are mainly in rock niches. The Lesser Spotted Eagle (luckily its population in Bulgaria is relatively steady), the exeptionally rare Imperial Eagle, the Black as well as all other kinds of woodpeckers, the Towny and other owls, the Nightjahr and many others breed in the forests and the Corncrake in the meadows. Out of the total number of 92 mammals reported in Bulgaria, 62 have been counted in the valley. The biggest is the number of bats - 22 species, all the 5 Horseshoe bats to be found in Europe among them and rodents - 20 species, among which are the Ground Squirrel (Souslik), the Wild living Steppe Mouse, the Harvest Mouse, the Lesser Mole Rat. The predators are best representated by the Polecats: the Weasel, the Steppe and the Marbled Polecat and the Otter. The forests are also inhabited by Wild Cats, Wolves, Jackals and by all kinds of Ungulates. That is a remarkable variety accomodated on a small span of land.
There are numerous evidences of the ancient history in the Park. Traces of human activities of primaeval times have been found there, yet the remains of antiquity and of the Bulgarian medieval times are generally appreciated as the heritage of the greatest value. The ruins of the medieval castle of Cherven (XIII - XIV century AD) with one of the few intact turrets in Bulgaria is in the park area. A big number of hermits and monks settled in the valley in the Late Middle Ages - XII - XIV century AD. They adapted some of the caves into dwelling. There were individual cells as well as whole monasteries some of which exist as historical sights. The mural paintings in the rock churches near Ivanovo - an archaelogical reserve - represent a peak of the medieval Bulgarian art. They were created by an unknown Bulgarian icon-painter from the so called Turnovo Art School in Byzantine style. The churches are one of the nine sites in Bulgaria in the World Cultural and Natural Heritage under the aegis of UNESCO.
The road access to the Park is very good. The points of departure are in Rousse and in the villages in its vicinity or within the Park. There are excellent possibilities for modern environment-friendly tourism. People of various interests can find place to practice their hobby there as the area is attractive for botanists and zoologists, esp. birdwatchers, for Nature photographers, conoisseurs of archeology, history and art. Hiking on foot, horse or bicycle rides can be organized. Lodging and board for holiday-makers is provided in the villages of Pissanets, Nissovo, Cherven and Ivanovo. The Batakliyata Forest House situated 3 km away from Nissovo is especially attractive. There are 2 apartments there and a dining room with a fireplace. Besides, there are 4 bungalows with showers and WC. The House provides board and lodging for 12 people.