The Bulgarian Rila mountain has the highest summit on the entire Balkan Peninsula – peak Musala. Musala’s stunning height of 2,925 meters is only one of Rila’s natural treasures. The most picturesque panoramic views in the mountain can actually be witnessed near the 7 Rila Lakes. Unsurprisingly enough, the wondrous lakes attract humongous crowds of visitors each year, even though they aren’t even part of UNESCO’s fancy tentative lists.
Legend has it, some millennia ago a couple of humanoid giants used to inhabit these lands. Evil spirits envied their love and set out to destroy them. They slayed the man and his significant other was left devastated. As she mourned for her lost one, she cried endlessly and her tears ran through the mountain’s valleys, forming a total of seven lakes. Nowadays there’s a famous rock that resembles a gigantic man and a woman located near one of the lakes, nicknamed The Tear. The legend claims that these two figures are the reincarnation of the couple, still guarding off their home.
Legend left aside, nobody really knows how old the 7 Rila Lakes are. They are glacial lakes, so it’s most likely they were naturally formed from ancient glaciers which melted and eroded the soil beneath them. Geologists believe their origins came with the end of the last Ice Age. Each of the lakes has a different name, shape, depth and elevation above the sea level.
Salzata (The Tear) is the smallest one of all seven and has the clearest waters, hence its name. It’s also perched atop the highest spot at an altitude of 2.5 kilometers above sea level and takes up just under 7,000 square meters in size.
Right below The Tear is Okoto (The Eye). It’s the third largest lake in the mountain and also the deepest of them all. With an impressive depth of approximately 37.7 meters The Eye happens to be the deepest cirque lake in the entire country. Although it’s named after its eye-like oval shape, this lake is sometimes called The Heart. Two Bulgarian divers have managed to reach its waterbed in 2005, concluding that the lake’s depth keeps increasing with each new year.
Known for its extremely steep shores, Babreka (The Kidney) is the third lake counting from the top. Its waters are 28 meters deep, making it the second deepest after The Eye. Moreover, it’s the second largest of all 7 Rila Lakes after The Twin.
Bliznaka (The Twin) is situated right in the middle. It’s the largest and most oddly shaped lake. The name is derived from its unique structure. Unlike the rest, The Twin is actually composed out of two lakes, which are connected by a small strip of water.
With a depth of only 6.5 meters, Trilistnika (The Trefoil) is irregular in appearances and resembles a three-fingered hand. It’s completely frozen between early November and late spring. The ice cap can reach up to 2 meters in thickness.
The penultimate lake counting from the top is the Ribnoto Ezero (Fish Lake), which is the shallowest. The name isn’t derived from its shape, but rather from the abundance of fish inhabiting its basin. Fishing in it, of course, is strictly prohibited in attempt to preserve the natural wonders of Bulgaria.
Meaning The Lower Lake in English, Dolnoto Ezero is the lowest of the 7 Rila Lakes, situated at an elevation of 2,095 meters above the sea level. With a depth of 11 meters it welcomes the flowing waters of the upper lakes. The Lower Lake also serves as the spring of the 48 kilometer long river Dzerman.