Haemus in one, and Rodope of Thrace Transform'd to mountains, fill'd the foremost place; Who claim'd the titles of the Gods above Ovid, Metamorphoses
Balkan Mountains – backbone of The Balkan Peninsula by which the whole peninsula got its name, stretches from the Black Sea in the east, all the way to Vrška Čuka near Zaječar, Serbia in the west, like a mellow sheepdog protecting innumerable grazing herds of sheep and goats. Rounded summits, polished by Sun for millions of years, winds and rains, indicate the mountain's ancient origin. In these primeval times, lions, cave bears and hyenas roamed in the mountain's towering forests, and in late stone age people dwelled in the caves and left spectacular pieces of art behind. Classic Greeks named this mountain range Haemus and, recognizing its immense significance, named all of our peninsula as the “Peninsula of Haemus”. The ancient Greek legend says that the Thracian king Haemus, son of Boreas, god of cold north wind, was so supercilious that he compared himself and his wife queen Rhodope to Zeus and Hera. The gods' punishment was turning them into Haemus (Balkan Mountains) and Rhodope mountains, still longingly looking at each other across the wide valley of the Marica river. The Balkan Mountains have two celestial namesakes: Montes Haemus, mountain massif on the Moon and Haemus Montes, being a part of the mountain range on the Jupiter’s satellite of Io. The powerful magic of the Balkan Mountains makes it irresistible even today, thousands of years after their former inhabitants spun their legends. We were fortunate enough that, discreet and somewhat out of the sight of the all-seeing eye of “development”, the mountain was not drowned by the wave of “construction” which demolished the Kopaonik and Zlatibor mountains, and it remains intact and clean, open for connoisseurs and gourmets who know how to cherish authentic beauty. The Balkan mountains are the home for almost one-third of all waterfalls in Serbia, golden eagles make their nests on their summits, bears, sounders of wild boars and wolf packs are roaming across their vaste meadows, their canyons are teeming with brown trouts and other rare fish species, and the Balkan lynx lurks from its heights – so vulnerable that in the whole Balkan wilderness only fifty specimen remain. People of the Balkan mountains make a part of this magic: hospitable, warm-hearted, first to share with a guest the last bite of food they have in the house, but so independent and strong-willed that anyone who tried to disrupt their life burned himself on the fiery power of their resistance. I have been strolling along its paths and trails for a long time. But in the last few years I see fresh, modern faces, pilgrims with itchy feet, people young and old, who do not wreak havoc and leave piles of garbage, but nothing but good vibrations: cyclists, hikers, fishermen, photographers, herb pickers – everyone is welcome if they come in good faith. For each and every one of them, the mountain selected a piece of its abundant, exclusive offer. You are welcome, too!