The Dragoman Marshland is the largest karst swamp in Bulgaria. It is situated 40 km north-west from Sofia, and about 3 km from the town of Dragoman.
In 1930, draining of the wetlands was initiated in Bulgaria, and they were turned into agricultural lands. The Dragoman Marshland was drained by 11 draining channels and a pumping station, and the life inside it was terminated for a long period of time. After the draining process was stopped, restoration of the ecological condition of the Dragoman Marshland was started at the beginning of the 1990s. Nowadays, the population here is revived and is gradually returning to its normal rhythm.
The marshland is situated at 701 meters altitude and occupies an area of 350 ha, which is approximately the area of about 480 football fields. Since 1996, the Wild Nature Association “Balkans” has been taking care of the restoration and the protection of the marshland.
The marshland is inhabited by 226 bird species, and 126 of them nest here. It is of vital importance for the nesting of two globally endangered species – Aythya nyroca and Crex crex. The migratory way “Via Aristotelis” passes through the marshland. This is why it is of exceptional importance for the migrating water birds.
Some of the plant species which can be seen here are reed, rush, threadworm, and bulrush. Some of the most interesting species are Elatine alsinastrum, Urticularia vulgaris – species of insectivorous plant, the predatory floating plant without roots – Aldrovanda, orchids, etc.
There are specially made wooden pathways in the swamp, along which visitors can walk and observe the species in the region. An observation tower is also constructed here, which opens a panorama to the entire locality. Shelters are placed among the reeds, where visitors can take pictures of the swamp animals.
The close proximity of the marshland to Chepan Mountain offers options for hiking. The highest peak on the limestone mountain Chepan Mountain is Petrovski Krast (1,206 meters), and various rare and endemic plants can be seen there, such as Tulipa urumoffii, Edraianthus serbicus, etc. The Thracian sanctuary of God Sabazius is situated on the Petrovski Krast peak. The marked route for hiking along Chepan Mountain passes through various habitats on the mountain. Its length is 13 km, the duration of the crossing is about 5-6 hours, and the difficulty level is medium.
The visitor center Dragoman Marshland is situated before the marshland. The center is equipped with a presentation room on an area of 100 square meters, and the only exposition for the wetlands in Bulgaria is placed inside it. The visitors of the Dragoman Marshland center can get acquainted with the history of the locality using an electronic interactive module. The first and only specialized center around Sofia, designed for meetings, lectures and seminars for students and environmentalists. A special education program is developed for students. In an interesting and curious way, it presents the wetlands in Bulgaria. Additional information materials and souvenirs are sold in the center.
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