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Dorkovo Pliocene Park - the home of the Auvergne mastodon

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Dorkovo Pliocene Park - the home of the Auvergne mastodon

If you love history, wonder what nature looked like on these lands millions of years ago, are curious and like animals, then the Pliocene Park in the village of Dorkovo is the place for you! As soon as you step inside, you are transported back millennia thanks to the created atmosphere. In the middle of the hall you will notice a huge mastodon with a height of almost four meters and tusks of three and a half meters. Hidden speakers play sounds that help you step back in time and feel the place. On the wall is a panorama of the surrounding nature at the time of the mastodon with the typical animal and plant species. Bears, rhinos, deer, tapirs and other animals are seen. At that time, the climate was subtropical, making it much warmer and wetter than it is now. The overall feel of this place is very pleasant and despite its small area, it will help you feel what it was like here millions of years ago, even if only for a short time. And the memory of the visit will definitely stay with you for a long time.

How do you get there?

The village of Dorkovo is located about 14 km. from the nearest town Velingrad. Bansko and Plovdiv are about 80 km from there. If you are traveling by car, it is most convenient to get there from Pazardzhik or Velingrad, so I would recommend combining it with a visit to the mineral pools in Velingrad. There is a parking lot in front of the park itself, so you can park your car there. The last few hundred meters are rutted and it is good to ride with caution.

By public transport you can travel to Velingrad and from there by bus to the village of Dorkovo. Every day there are 4 buses in the direction of the Velingrad - Dorkovo line. You can check the current timetable at the bus station in Velingrad.

When was this park opened?

The Pliocene Park near the village of Dorkovo was opened in 2013. Initially, the local teacher Manol Cholev discovered part of the remains in the area around the village in the 1930s. Later in 1985 the scientists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences together with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris begin excavations. The excavations are led by Prof. Nikolay Spasov and Prof. Erber Toma. They continued for 3 years and managed to find an extremely large number of remains of the Auvergne mastodon. This makes it one of the most valuable excavations for this period in history (Early Plycene). The bones found were the main reason this park was established years later.

How long does it take?

The Pliocene Park building is not very big, but it is very interesting and has a lot of information to read. Allow half an hour to explore and take pictures.

What is the visit fee?

The fee for adults is BGN 5. and BGN 3 for children. It also applies to the "Tsepina" fortress, which is located nearby.

What are the park opening hours?

The park is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter. There are no weekends, so do not miss to visit it.


Can you tell me more about the park?

Of course! The building of the park is very interesting - it is a combination of metal, wood and glass and is round in shape. It was chosen as the building of the year in 2013. Its shape should resemble a beehive. Now the wood is burnt by the sun, but the building is definitely very interesting and attractive. Upon entering, you see a sculpture of an Auvergne mastodon anancus. It is made of plastic, styrofoam and plaster and is life-size. Mastodons were about 4 meters tall and were very impressive animals. Their weight is about 10 tons, and the surprising thing is that they are herbivores. On the wall around the figure of the mastodon is a landscape panorama (diorama) with animals and plants from the period of the mastodon. Various fossils are displayed in the showcases - teeth, bones and tusks of various animals.

The area where the excavations were made is the largest paleontological site in the Balkans and the second most significant exposition in Europe. More than 600 bones of 30 species of animals were found, which is extremely impressive. In 1990 it was declared a natural landmark.


What's interesting nearby?

  • (at 5km) You should definitely not miss the "Tsepina" fortress, which is located near the Pliocene Park. It is only a few kilometers away and the park ticket includes its visit. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit it that day, but we will definitely come back one day to correct this mistake.
  • (at 15km) You can also see the lake "Kleptuza" in Velingrad. The place in the winter months looks like something from an apocalyptic movie, but in the summer it is quite lively and popular. In the summer, you can ride a water bike in the lake or walk the eco-paths above it for fresh air and a view of the city.
  • (at 15 km) Batak dam is also nearby, which is one of the most beautiful dams in Bulgaria. You can combine it with a visit to Tsigov chark or the town of Batak.
  • (at 60 km) If you have an adventurous spirit, about 60 km from there is the village of Ravnogor - one of the most beautiful mountain villages with exceptional nature.

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