Musala – the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula

For its not so vast territory, Bulgaria has managed to gather in itself countless natural beauties and wonderful features of the relief, which impress us and the many foreign tourists who visit our country every year. Some of them can boast not only with beauty, but also with a well-deserved title. Like Musala – the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula. We will tell you more interesting information about this bizarre mountain peak, located in the beautiful Rila mountain, in the following lines. Get ready to learn some interesting facts and bust some popular myths::

How high is the highest peak in the Balkans?

This is a classic geography class question that almost every student has had to answer more than once. Even without standing in front of the blackboard, you will remember that the correct answer is 2925.4 m. This makes it both the highest peak in Rila, in Bulgaria and on the entire Balkan Peninsula, and also the seventh highest on the Old Continent . A fact of which we are all proud, although we have no particular merit.

Musala is only a few meters higher than the highest peak in northern neighboring Greece. The peak Mitikas in Mount Olympus is 2,917 m high and it is very close to the Balkan leader. You have probably heard humorous stories that when the Greeks climbed Mitikas, they carried stones in an attempt to gain those missing meters and one day Olympus would become the highest mountain in the Balkans.

мусала е най-високият връх на балканите и в Рила

Where does the name Musala come from and what does it mean?

There are various hypotheses as to the exact origin of the name Musala. According to some scholars, it comes from the Arabic “musalla”, which in translation means “a place close to God” or “a mountain for prayer”. Other theories take the word “musalat” as its primary source, which again has Arabic origins and means “dominant” or “dominant”. In any case, this name was imposed during the centuries of Ottoman rule on our lands. It is not known what the former name of the peak was.

In 1949, Musala’s name was replaced by Stalin. The peak bears the name of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin until 1962 in honor of Bulgarian-Soviet friendship. The name Musala has often been the subject of contentious discussions and calls for a change over the years, but it remains intact to this day.

Is it hard to conquer Musala?

връх мусала

The good news for all mountain climbers is that Musala is far from being one of the most difficult peaks to climb. The crossing is long – about 4 hours, and there are sections of the terrain that are a bit steeper and stony. But with enough breaks, any prepared hiker, regardless of whether he is a beginner, can reach the highest point in the Balkans. The starting point is usually the resort of Borovets.

It is very important to note that as always, hikers should be well equipped with comfortable shoes suitable for climbing. Also, the average annual temperature at the summit is minus 2.9 degrees, so it’s a good idea to be prepared with outerwear. Sufficient water and food are also a must. It is best to climb it in the summer months – between June and September.

Let’s bust the myths about Musala

When you reach the top after a long and tiring trek, the view is truly stunning and the sense of satisfaction immeasurable. Everywhere you look you will see the immense beauty of nature. According to a popular myth, if the weather is sunny and cloudless, you can even see the White Sea. However, this turns out to be tourist fiction, not fact. The round shape of the Earth does not actually allow you to observe such distant objects. So don’t be disappointed if you conquered Musala without seeing the White Sea.

These are some interesting facts about the highest peak in the Balkans. If you haven’t add it to your bucket list yet, it’s time to plan a new adventure.


Picture of Vanya Grancharova

Vanya Grancharova

I actively participate in the cultural life of the tourist destination Bansko and I’m a member of the patriotic association "Dedo Lazko". I combine my commitments to the tourism business with teaching at the high school in Bansko. I am part of the author's team for the adaptation of „Slavic Bulgarian History“ for students. My favorite projects that I develop with passion and enthusiasm are: "Art Idea Bg" company for design, the internet portal for culinary tourism and the "Taste of Bansko" project as entirely my author's spaces.