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The Veľká Fatra national park

Veľká Fatra is situated in the north-west part of Central Slovakia. It stretches in the regions of Turiec, Liptov and Banská Bystrica. It is one of our biggest and highest mountain ranges. Its highest peak Ostredok is 1,592m above sea level.

For its unique natural beauties and well-preserved territory Veľká Fatra was declared protected landscape area in 1973 and in 2002 our youngest national park with the area of 40,371ha and the protected zone of 26,132ha was established by the Regulation of the Government of the Slovak Republic No. 140 of March 27, 2002 effective as of April 1, 2002.

Due to varied geological base Veľká Fatra is very diverse. In western part, there are impressive rock sceneries with plenty of picturesque recesses, towers, rocky places, windows, overhangs, waterfalls and caves, which have been formed by water in lime stones and dolomites in course of millions of years. There have been several tens of caves discovered in Veľká Fatra up to the present day, some of which are known for their prehistoric settlements and beautiful decorations and at present they are important places of bat hibernation. The only cave open for public with the professional guide is the 2,763 meters long Harmanecká jaskyňa cave situated beyond the borders of the national park. The following flowers are gems of rock recesses: horec Clusiov (Gentiana clusii), plesnivec alpínsky (Leontopodium alpinum), prvosienka holá (Primul auricular), poniklec slovenský (Pulsatilla slavica) and others. In the air, majestic king of the sky – golden eagle can be seen circling. On remote rock faces, smaller but not less rare wall creeper can be seen nesting.

The main ridge is formed of smoothly shaped rounded and massive ridges which were deforested in the past for needs of sheep and beef cattle grazing. At present there are 2,000ha of meadows and grazing lands with rare species of plants and animals, especially insects. Early in spring the uplands are covered with a violet carpet of šafrán karpatský (Crocus heuffelianus) later replaced with white veternica narcisokvetá (Anemone narcissiflora) and žltohlav najvyšší (Trollius altissimus). On steep slopes there are lots of avalanche gullies. There are 40 - 200 avalanches per year.

About 85% of the territory is covered by oak and beech vegetation level up to the mountain pine level. On inaccessible steep slopes, original primeval forest ecosystems have been preserved with little or almost no sign of human activity. The interesting thing about Veľká Fatra is the occurrence of protected tis obyčajný (Taxus baccata) which is rather rare in Europe at present. The highest concentration is in the national nature reserve Harmanecká tisina. For that reason the yew tree is included also in the logo of the Veľká Fatra NP Administration. In forests, the rare endemite of Veľká Fatra, cyklámen fatranský (Cyclamen fatrense), occurs which cannot be found anywhere else in the world just in Veľká Fatra and western part of the Low Tatras. The following of more common species are interesting, e.g. ľalia zlatohlavá (Lilium martagon), mesačnica trváca (Lunaria rediviva), večernica snežná (Hesperis matronalis) and species of prilbica (Actonium) and kruštík (Epipactis). Wide biological diversity of Veľká Fatra is proved by the occurrence of more than 1,000 species of higher plants and 3,000 species of invertebrates. Deep forests are the home for our most valuable forest beasts of prey - medveď hnedý (Ursus arctos), vlk dravý (Canis lupus), rys ostrovid (Lynx lynx) and mačka divá (Felis silvestris). It is also an oasis for the most endangered gallinacean birds - tetrov hlucháň (Tetrao urogallus) and tetrov hôľniak (Tetrao tetrix).

Up to now, there have been 35 small-area protected territories, 15 national nature reserves, 4 nature reserves, 1 national nature monument, 10 nature monuments and 5 protective zones declared in the territory of Veľká Fatra. These are mostly untouched primeval forest areas, rare rock formations or preserved wetlands.

Following the accession to the European Union, Veľká Fatra was included in the global system of protected territories, NATURA 2000, as an area of European significance and protected bird area. Thanks to rich reserves of fresh water Veľká Fatra was declared a protected water management area in 1987 and it supplies drinking water to many villages and locations in its vicinity. The most favourite tourist attractions include the Gaderská and Blatnická dolina valleys, rocky dominants of the Turčianska kotlina basin, Tlstá and Ostrá, main ridge in the area of Krížna, Ostredok and Borišov, the Blatnica and Sklabiňa Castles and the monument reserve of folk architecture in the Vlkolínec settlement which is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.

The highest mountain Ostredok is 1,592m above the sea level.

Čierny kameň – national nature reserve, distinctive peak – outliner of the Choč napper on the mountain ridge of Veľká Fatra with mostly upland relief, the territory of botanic and zoologic value

Cyklámen fatranský (Cyclamen fatrense) - endemic species of Veľká Fatra

Tis obyčajný (Taxus baccata) – typical tree species of Veľká Fatra with the highest concentration in Central Europe

Orol skalný (Aquilla chrysaetos) – typical species with several pairs nesting in Veľká Fatra and traditionally increased attention of the NP Administration paid to nest monitoring and guarding

Tetrov hlucháň (Tetrao urogallus) – typical species of old forest vegetation for protection of which several protective zones are declared in Veľká Fatra

Rys ostrovid (Lynx lynx) – typical species of undisturbed recesses and deep valleys of Veľká Fatra with the long-term attention of the NP Administration