UNESCO World Heritage Site #310: Durmitor National Park

Posted: May 15, 2016    Categories: World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Durmitor National ParkUNESCO World Heritage Site: Durmitor National Park/caption]

From the World Heritage inscription:

Durmitor is a stunning limestone massif located in Northern Montenegro and belonging to the Dinaric Alps or Dinarides. It is also the name of Montenegro’s largest protected area, the Durmitor National Park, which constitutes the heart of a landscape shaped by glaciers, numerous rivers and underground streams of which are embedded in the much larger Tara River Basin Biosphere Reserve. Some fifty peaks higher than 2,000 metres above sea level rise above plateaus, alpine meadows and forests, including Bobotov Peak (2,525 metres above sea level). Numerous glacial lakes, locally known as “mountain eyes”, cover the landscape. Despite its many attractions, Durmitor is best known for the spectacular canyons of the Draga, Sušica, Komarnica and Tara Rivers, the latter stands out as Europe’s deepest gorge. Durmitor is a popular tourism destination, known for superb hiking, climbing, mountaineering and canoeing opportunities. The nearby town of Zabljak is Montenegro’s primary ski resort.

Besides the extraordinary landscape beauty and the fascinating geological heritage, Durmitor National Park is also home to an impressive biological diversity. At the habitat level, a rare old-growth stand of European Black Pine deserves to be mentioned. Favoured by the altitudinal gradient of more than 2,000 metres and both alpine and Mediterranean climatic influences, there are more than 1,600 vascular plants in the wider Durmitor Massif. A great percentage is found in the park and many are rare and endemic species. Large mammals include Brown Bear, Grey Wolf, and European Wild Cat. Among the 130 recorded birds are Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Capercaillie. Likewise, noteworthy is the rich fish fauna, which includes the endangered Danube Salmon. The park is inhabited by farmers and shepherds, traditionally using the high-altitude meadows as summer pastures. The property is well protected and its status and international recognition have helped to prevent irreparable damage from threats, such as upstream pollution and proposed dam construction.

There are a small number of world heritage sites which I have visited where I would consider my visit incomplete. In particular, my visits to the Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch, and the Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (both in Germany) were under renovation when I visited. I was there, but I never really got to experience the sites due to construction.

Likewise, I’m going to have to put Durmitor National Park on the “incomplete visit” list. I drove to the park from Sarajevo in Bosnia, which means I entered the park from the west, whereas the more popular entrance is in the east. After several hours of driving up winding mountain roads, I arrived in the park only to find…..a snowdrift blocking the road. It wasn’t huge, but there was no way my Ford Fiat rental was going to get through it.

I’ll definately revisit the park the next time I am in Montenegro. Thankfully the country is pretty small so it isn’t too much effort to get there no matter where in the country you are.