The Emen Canyon is a scenic location along the Negovanka River, in the foothills of The Central Balkan Range’s northern slope, 20 km from the city of Veliko Turnovo. The constantly flowing river has cut through the valley’s soft limestone to create many rapids, waterfalls, pools and recesses beneath cliffs that rise as high as 90 meters.
The canyon begins to the south of the Novo Selo village and is interrupted near the village of Emen where the valley slopes rise sharply. For this reason the canyon is divided into two parts, The Upper and Lower Boaz. Because of its unique natural attributes and beauty, the region has been declared a protected reserve by Decree № 880 on November 11, 1980.
Bulgaria’s first ecological route was laid out here, called the Negovanka Route, after the river. Bridges were constructed along the route, as were stairs and other wooden structures to make the excursion easier and more pleasant. Without a doubt, the most enjoyable part of the canyon is the secluded waterfall Momin Skok (Girls’ Leap).
The falls are 10 meters high and enclosed on three sides by cliffs, with a wide, quiet pool beneath them. The waterfall was named for a legend about three young Bulgarian women who chose to throw themselves off the falls rather than be captured by the Ottomans who were pursuing them.
The Emen Canyon reveals its full beauty in Spring, when the river is fullest and Nature is freshest and most benign. The green fields along the trail offer excellent opportunities for picnics, and the pool beneath Girl’s Leap Falls is a fine place to take a swim.
Because the karst has been extensively eroded, there is a cave in the canyon that is one of Bulgaria’s deepest (3,113 meters), Emen Cave. It is likely that the cave was occupied as early as the Neolithic Age, and artifacts have been found from the Bronze Age, the early and later Iron Age, and at later times in Antiquity.
During the socialist era, there were state-run farms in the cave that grew mushrooms, and later churns were set up to produce white cheese. There was also a military base in the cave that was later co
nverted to a restaurant. These uses of the cave were all short-lived, but their traces are still visible. This is the only cave in the country equipped with an elevator shaft.
The Emen Cave is important in Bulgaria and throughout Europe as a habitat for bats. There has long been a wide diversity of bat species in the cave, but unfortunately their numbers have diminished lately. The local spelunking club is making every effort to preserve this natural treasure. Visitors are welcome to enter the cave, as well as the other 12 caves in the region.
The Emen ecological trail begins in the village of Emen, but there is also a paved road to the Emen Cave, where the most interesting part of the canyon begins. The trail is well maintained for visitors’ recreational enjoyment.