Bulgaria is a small country on the Balkan Peninsula, covered by a few distinctive mountain ranges. The Bulgarian mountains are part of the Alpide Belt (or the Alpine-Himalayan Orogenic Belt). Their formation is linked to the existence (and further disintegration) of a large ancient massif – the so called Macedono-Rhodope, or Macedono-Trachian Mountain Massif. Nowadays, from morphological point of view, there are tree distinct mountain areas in Bulgaria: the Macedono-Rhodope Massif, the Kraishte-Srednogorska Area and the Staroplaninska Area (Balkan Area).
The Macedono-Rhodope Massif – its borders touch the hollows of (the towns of) Kyustendil, Dupnitsa, Dolna Banya and the Gornotrakiyska Lowlands (where the town of Plovdiv is located). The border follows the Maritsa River, while to the west it includes territories in Albania. South from the Kyustendil Hollow the massif is divided in two parts by the Struma River – the Eastern Part – Rilo-Rhodope Massif, and Western Part – Macedono-Serbian Massif. The highest mountain and peak of the whole Macedono-Rhodope Massif and on the Balkans is Mount Musala (2925, 4m) in Rila Mountains (Bulgaria).
The Bulgarian part of the Rilo-Rhodope Massif includes the mountain ranges of Rila Mountains, Pirin Mountains, Rhodope Mountains, Slavyanka Mountains, Sturgach Mountains. It also includes a few mountains in Greece: Bozdag Mountains and some smaller ranges. The Macedono-Serbian Massif includes five mountains from the Osogovo-Belasitsa Group, located west from the Struma River Valley – Belasitsa Mountains, Ograzden Mountains, Vlahina Mountains, Maleshevska Mountains and Osogovska Mountains.
The Kraishte-Srednogorska Area is framed by the Macedono-Trachian Massif to the south and by the Balkan Range to the north. The northern border is traced by a chain of hollows. The Kraishte-Srednogorska Area includes the following mountains: Kraishte Area, Plansko-Zavalska Mountain Chain, Verilo-Ruyska Mountain Chain, Sredna Gora Mountains, Sakar Mountains and Strandza Mountains. The highest peak of the whole Kraishte-Srednogorska Area in Mount Cherni Vruh (2290 m) – the top of Vitosha Mountains. The Kraishte Area is located south-west and west from Sofia towards the border with Serbia and includes 11 small mountains, with the highest one Mount Bilo (1737, 1) of Kurvav Kamuk Mountain. The Verilo-Ruyska Mountain Chain includes 7 mountains and the highest one is Mount Ruy (1706 m) on the Bulgarian-Serbian border. Plansko-Zavalska Mountain Chain is consisted of six separate mountains, including Vitosha Mountains.
The Staroplaninska Area (or the Balkan Area) – includes the mountain chains of the Balkan Mountains (Stara Planina) and the Prebalkan Mountains. The highest peak is Mount Botev (2375, 9 m). The Balkan Mountains give the name of the whole Balkan Peninsula. As their western border is considered the Belogradchik Pass, the eastern one – Kape Emine on the Black Sea. They are divided to three parts – Central, Eastern and Western Balkan Mountains. The Prebalkan (or the Subbalkan) is a lower chain, stretched parallel to the Balkan Mountains on their northern side. The highest peak is Mount Vasilyov (1490 m).
Read more about the main mountain ranges of Bulgaria.