Spanning 390 km2 in Montenegro's northwest lies the Durmitor National Park, which home to such natural beauties that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1980. The park takes its name from Mount Durmitor, which in turn is often said to mean "mountain full of water" in Celtic.
Designated a national park in 1952, the reserve includes the Durmitor massif -- with its highest peak at 2,522 meters (Bobotov Kuk) -- as well as the river canyons of the Tara, the Draga, the Sušica, and the higher part of the Komarnica canyon plateau. East of the massif is the park's hallmark: a vast plateau, 1,500 metres above sea level, divided by deep river canyons and surrounded by mountain peaks, 48 of which are above 2,000 meters.
Dotting this landscape are 18 glacial lakes, known as Gorske Oči or "mountain eyes". The largest and most famous of these is the Crno Jezero or Black Lake, a sparkling lake surrounded by vast forests and high mountain peaks situated three kilometers from the town of Žabljak, Montenegro's winter tourist hotspot.
Adding to this opulence are the park's clear, forceful rivers, which have carved breathtaking canyons in solid rock. Especially attractive is the Tara River Canyon, a gorge 80 km long and up to 1,300 m deep, making it the deepest river canyon in Europe and the second largest canyon in the world, ranking right behind the Grand Canyon of Arizona, USA. Yet its size is only part of its splendor: the canyon is also rich with waterfalls and cascades, as the river's mean fall throughout the gorge is 3.6 m/km. The river itself is 150 km long, which makes it the longest in Montenegro.
While the sheer uniqueness of the landscape should be enough to attract nature lovers and scientists alike, Durmitor National Park has yet more to offer: an inseparable part of this intact wilderness are over 1,300 plant species, many of them rare or endemic, which together with a multitude of fauna make an ecosystem of unusual complexity.
And as if this was not enough, the Durmitor National Park abounds with cultural monuments hailing from classical to modern times. Most common are medieval ruins: the remains of cities and forts, bridges and border posts, necropolises, and monasteries in the Tara river valley.
Thanks to this natural and cultural wealth, the World Heritage Committee decided to add the Durmitor National Park to the World Heritage List during its fourth session in Paris in 1980. The Tara River valet and its canyon were declared a biosphere reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1977.