The border Strandzha Mountain should become a joint Bulgarian-Turkish project for non-material cultural heritage that should seek UNESCO status, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov has proposed upon welcoming his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.
"Both countries are tourist destinations, especially Turkey. We need to try to diversify the tourism opportunities. Spa tourism has a very good potential but I would add cultural tourism, which leads to dialogue between civilizations," Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov said at a Bulgarian-Turkish business forum in Sofia.
"We have start the so called "Cultural Corridors" initiative – its point is to unit the local routes into international routes for European and international travelers. This is when we can achieve a lot more. I have actually talked with Mrs. Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, about turning Strandzha into a joint Bulgarian-Turkish project for non-material cultural heritage of UNESCO," he elaborated.
The Strandzha Mountain (in Turkish Yildiz Daglari or Istranca) is located in southeastern Bulgaria and the European part of Turkey, bordering on the Black Sea to the east. Its highest peak is Mahiada or Mahya Dagı - 1 031 m in Turkey, while the highest point on Bulgarian territory is Golyamo Gradishte – 710 m. The total area of the mountain is approximately 10 000 square km.
Most of the Bulgarian part of Strandzha is encompassed by the Strandzha Natural Park established in 1995. It is the largest protected area in Bulgaria with a territory of 1 161% about 1% of Bulgaria's total territory.
The Strandzha region harbors a number of unique biological species, archaeological sites, and pagan rituals such as nestinarstvo – or fire-dancing – that survive to this day.