Rila is the highest mountain not only in Bulgaria, but also on the entire Balkan Peninsula. In addition to the proud leader Musala, the mountain can boast of many more charming and interesting natural sights. It is home to the breathtakingly beautiful Rila Lakes, which every year attract many people who are willing to go through a long trek to catch a glimpse of them.

When we talk about the natural beauties of Rila, we somehow often forget to mention the fact that it is from there that some of the longest and full-flowing rivers in Bulgaria originate, as well as a number of smaller ones. Apart from important water sources, these rivers have been part of the culture and lifestyle of the various peoples who lived on our lands for millennia. And in Bulgarian folklore you will find a number of interesting legends related to their origin. If you are interested in learning more, in the following lines we will tell you about the rivers that spring from the majestic Rila mountain.

Iskar – the longest river in Bulgaria

Rila can definitely boast of being the mother of champions, as the longest river in Bulgaria originates precisely from its springs. This river is known to everyone – Iskar river. Its length is as much as 368 km., enough to be the longest river flowing entirely on the territory of the country. Iskar flows through four districts – Sofia, Vratsa, Lovech and Pleven, until it finally flows into the Danube. On its way, it forms one of the most beautiful and picturesque corners in Bulgaria, namely the famous Iskar gorge. In Bulgarian legends you will find different stories about the origin of the river. In each of them, however, Iskar is described as a strong, boisterous and snowy youth who, due to a confluence of unfortunate circumstances, is cursed to turn into a river.

река искър в Рила

Maritsa – the most flooded river in Bulgaria

Maritsa is one of the big and famous rivers in our country. It can boast the title of the most full-water river in Bulgaria. In the past, the river bore different names Evros, Hebros, flows into the White Sea, already on the territory of European Turkey. Heber flows through southern Bulgaria and passes through the regions of Sofia, Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora and Haskovo. An interesting legend tells that Maritsa, Arda and Tunja were once sisters. However, they harbored no sisterly feelings, instead constantly competing with each other. This upset their parents, who cursed them to turn into rivers. But even that did not calm them down. To settle the dispute once and for all, they decided to have one last race. Whichever of them reached Edirne first would be the winner. The night before the big competition, they agreed which of the sisters woke up first to wake up the others. However, Tunja was clever, she waited for the others to fall asleep and set off to reach Edirne first. A little later, Arda woke up and realized the deception. She told Maritza and the sisters cursed Tunja to go through forests, bushes and rivers and never reach her goal. After that, the two united and went to Edirne.

Река Марица е най-пълноводна

Places – the sparkling child of Rila and Pirin

The Mesta River also originates from Rila, and more specifically from its two tributaries Byala Mesta and Cherna Mesta, which merge in the area of the town of Yakoruda. It flows into the White Sea on the territory of Greece, where it is known as Nestos. The river’s waters are frothy and turbulent, making it one of the favorite destinations for rafting enthusiasts. The Mesta area is important for the protection of wild birds and has been declared a protected area since 2007. The legend of Mesta states that she was a wonderfully beautiful maiden, the daughter of Rila and Pirin. She also had a brother – Iskar, with whom they were inseparable and always walked together. One morning, Mesta got up earlier than her brother and, failing to wake him, set out alone, hoping that he would find her. However, Iskar slept soundly and when he woke up his sister was so far away that there was no sign of her. He took off in the other direction and walked quickly, eager to find her. And so Iskar reached the Danube, and Mesta reached the White Sea, and they remained separated forever.

река места край Гоце Делчев

The stories of these rivers springing from the beautiful Rila mountain are as captivating as the views along them. In this article, we told you about only a small part of the rivers, whose home is the Rila, but we hope that it was interesting and useful for you.

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.