The European continent has a long history behind it made up of traditions, cultures that then met and mixed, legends, myths and evocative tales. Many of these stories that have been told and handed down for centuries are set in mysterious places, fascinating, silent and inhabited by more or less "known" presences: the forests.
In Europe there are many forests, scattered around the various nations, and each one carries not only its own load of tales and legends, but also the - hopefully - imperishable charm of nature and the environment itself. It is therefore important to know this world heritage and, above all, to learn and continue to preserve and respect these places truly unique. Let's take a look at the 15 most beautiful forests which are found on our continent.
15 - Komi virgin forest, Russia
The Komi Primeval Forest consists of an area of 3,28 million hectares of tundra and mountain tundra in the Urals, and is one of the largest areas of virgin boreal forest in Europe.
This vast area of conifers, poplars, birches, bogs, rivers and natural lakes has been monitored and studied for over 50 years, as it provides invaluable evidence of the natural processes affecting biodiversity in the taiga. And the first Russian natural site that was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It consists of two protected areas which together constitute the last European massif of primary forests, an area that has remained almost untouched. The forest is home to more than 40 mammal species, 204 bird species and 16 fish species.
14 - Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
The park is located in the mountainous region of Bjelasica which is located in the central part of Montenegro between the Tara and Lim rivers and is surrounded by three municipalities: Kolasin, Berane and Mojkovac. It stretches for 5400 large acres and surrounded by mountains whose peaks are more than 2000 meters high. Although it is the smallest of the four national parks in Montenegro, it is the one that presents the greatest variety of flora and fauna, there are well 26 different habitats which are home to 220 different plants, 150 species of birds and 10 species of mammals, 86 types of trees. In the waters of the park there are three types of trout and 350 types of insects.
The pristine forest, with trees over five hundred years old he witnesses battles between Turks on one side and Montenegrins and Serbs on the other side. There were also major clashes in the first Balkan war in 1912, the region also hosted several partisan activities in the Second World War.
13 - Foresta Irati, Spain
The Irati Forest is divided between the north of the Spanish region of Navarre and the Pyrenees Atlantiques in southwestern France. The Spanish part is located in the Irati river valley, between the Roncesvalles Orzanzurieta mountains to the west, and Mount Orhi to the east. IS the largest forest in Navarre and one of the largest and best preserved reserves of beech and fir trees in Europe. A walk in this forest will evoke a multitude of sensations: you will feel at one with nature, you will appreciate the wild sound of the water among the beeches and firs, the freshness of the cold waters of the river Irati, and the elusive sounds of animals.
Legends have always been told around the Irati forest: during your trip, you may come across the Basajaun (the protective spirit of the forest, in Basque mythology) a tall being, similar in appearance to the more famous Bigfoot, leaning on a stick. But don't worry! If you have the courage not to escape his sight, he will be an excellent - and harmless - guide for you through the forest.
12 - Forêt de Lyon, France
Although quite small and not as extensive as other French forests, the Forêt de Lyon is a place that everyone falls in love with instantly. It is known as the most beautiful beech forest in Europe: majestic trees seem to protect freshwater streams, leading visitors up to one ancient Norman town, with timeless beauty and charm.
But this forest also hides a rather disturbing place: theMortemer Abbey, known as the most haunted place in France!
Despite this record, the ruins of this place are home to theatrical performances and other outdoor events during the summer. The forest was very popular during the th and th centuries in the French aristocracy, they are in fact present well five magnificent castles.
11 - Foresta Umbra, Italy
This forest is what remains of the much larger "Nemus Garganicum", an immense expanse of woodland - also mentioned by Ovid, Strabo and Virgil - which extended along the entire promontory. The Umbra Forest is one of the largest broad-leaved formations in Italy and is also among the largest in all of Europe. It is mainly composed of beeches, turkey oaks, oaks, maples and holm oaks. In addition to being undisputed kingdom of orchids (in the park there are about 80 protected species) this forest is also rich in history and legend. The most famous is the one that tells of how Frederick II of Swabia used the poison produced by badgers, very common trees in this forest, to "get rid" of his overly pressing lovers.
10 - Forêt de Fontainebleau, France
The Forêt de Fontainebleau is one of the largest forests in France. Visitors mistakenly think that the main attraction of the place is the historic castle, but for the French it is instead the forest itself a real wild paradise for walks, trekking, mountain biking and bird watching. Mountaineers and climbers train here, scrambling up and down the famous boulders of Fontainebleau.
It is also a very romantic place, especially in autumn and spring and then, of course, there is the castle!
9 - New Forest, UK
Despite the name, this forest is by no means "new": more than 900 years ago the territory was a hunting area for William the Conqueror, later it became home to ponies, deer and cows, which have shaped the landscape. Today a National Park, it extends mainly in southwestern Hampshire and encompasses a unique landscape: woods, moors, meadows and wetlands are the backdrop to some picturesque villages, which resist the passage of time.
Children will appreciate a walk, bike ride but above all on horseback: this area is in fact very famous for hundreds of ponies flocking to it!
8 - Trillemarka - Rollagsfjell, Norway
This nature reserve covers an area of 147 km² and is located in the mountainous areas between Nore in Numedal and Solevann in Sigdal, Norway. It is the last of the country's last untouched ancient forests and preserves all its characteristics intact: pristine valleys, rivers, lakes and very old trees, including 93 species in danger of extinction. The fauna is also particularly rich and there are many endangered animals including some species of woodpeckers and other birds.
7 - Hallerbos Forest, Belgium
Surely you have heard of the splendid Bluebell Forest in Belgium, it is in fact one of the most visited and famous for its truly unique characteristics. Hallerbos is a sizable forest in which the bluebells cover the ground every year, usually in April or May. This show attracts many visitors, also because it is an absolutely free show!
The forest can be explored on foot, even with small children in stroller, but remembering that, although it looks almost like a cinema or a theater of nature, it is still a forest!
6 - Crooked forest of Gryfino, Poland
A young girl falls in love, reciprocated, with a handsome prince. Unfortunately their faith - one Catholic and the other pagan - divides them and does not seem to allow them to fulfill their dream of love. The girl goes to the forest and, with her song and dance, she even manages to make the forest dance. The prince, bewitched by the power of the girl's faith, decides to convert and have his people converted. And the trees? They remained "crooked" forever, suddenly stopped in their dance.
This of course is only one legend, but crooked trees really exist in this fascinating forest, full of mystery. In fact, the real reasons why the trees of this forest grow with this particular shape are not known ... should we believe the legend?
5 - Białowieża Forest, Poland - Belarus
This forest also conserves and guards unsolved mysteries and fantastic legends. In the central part of the Bialowieza forest a stone circle: At this construction the trees, especially oaks, differ significantly in appearance from other trees in the area. Most of the trees near the circle grow, in fact, developing not one, but several trunks.
Although this type of trees can also be found elsewhere, it seems that here they represent the rule. Dowsers and geomancy practitioners claim that a particular type of positive energy, in these places the ancient Slavic populations of the pre-Christian era, performed animist rituals.
The stone circle hides a legend: a long time ago, a powerful God with four faces ruled the territory of Białowieża, his name was Lasowid. On a full moon night he saw a particularly attractive nymph at one of the many fountains in the forest and fell in love with her. From this union was born a son named Wisz, who became a strong and full of ambition adult. At the same time, an old witch also lived in the woods who, wandering through the forest, discovered an area particularly suitable for performing her spells but lacking elements, that is, large stones from the depths of the lake. And here comes Wisz who proposed a pact to the old witch: he would have extracted and placed the stones if she had helped him to dethrone his father. Wisz fulfilled his part of the deal and in one night the stone circle was ready, but instead of fulfilling the promise, the witch lit a great fire and tricked Wisz, turning him into a stone, which is still inside today of the circle.
4 - Beech forest, Germany
The primeval forests of the Carpathians and the ancient beech forests of Germany are the largest remaining "virgin" forests in Europe. Here you can admire the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. Five of these German forests have also been declared a UN World Heritage Site.
3 - Forêt de Paimpont, France
Believe it or not legends of King Arthur and that this is actually there mythical forest of Brocéliande it does not matter. More than 1.000 visitors come here a year to take part in some mystical celebrations, but also for the incredible beauty of the forest. Everyone is enchanted at the tomb of Merlin or watching Hotié de Vivianne - il Castle of the Lady of the Lake who imprisoned Merlin in a tree, so they say.
No one can deny the age and antiquity of the forest, and some of its immense oaks certainly have mythical proportions. A trip to this forest is aperfect adventure for children who love ancient stories. Events and events are organized throughout the year, some of them truly spectacular. It is a delightful place to walk and explore, where the colors of autumn and spring will enchant you.
2 - Hoia-Baciu Forest, Romania
Right in the heart of the Ardeal region, in a place with an ancestral aspect, it is located one of the most mysterious places in Romania. Many words have been written about this place, as well as many onlookers have tried to venture into this forest that seems to be a sort of "door between worlds".
The Hoia-Baciu Forest is, for sure, one of the most famous places in Romania where a number of inexplicable phenomena have been studied and analyzed. It is also known as the "Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania".
Becoming famous since 1968, it has been known since time immemorial by the local population: here everyone knows that, among the trees, it is possible to hear the rustle that seems to come from another world, where all fears of the human subconscious come to life. From the very first steps into the forest, it is possible to experience symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, headaches and, sometimes, even burns on your skin!
The Hoia-Baciu Forest has been a taboo subject for a long time, because people were afraid to even talk about this place, considering it accursed and abode of the Devil.
Alexandru Sift, a biologist, began studying those paranormal phenomena that are said to take place here, was seduced by the fame of this forest and intrigued by all the amazing stories he heard from the locals. Taking some pictures managed to capture shadows, some other shapes, lights and figures that materialized only on the film. Since then, many researchers have been drawn to this place.
Ma the strangest thing happened in August 1968, when a 45-year-old ex-soldier, ignoring the warning of the villagers, went to spend a few hours of rest over the weekend with his girlfriend and two other family friends. Returning from the wood harvest, the four saw what appeared to be a UFO flying over the forest, without making any noise. The strange flying object suddenly began to glow and accelerated towards the sky. The four managed to take photographs which, once developed, were defined by the experts "the clearest images of a UFO taken in Romania and some of the most beautiful ever made".
The Hoia-Baciu Forest continues to be fascinating, mostly because of what witnesses say about the strange physical sensations, the lights in the middle of the night, the strange appearances of human faces, the voices and the different colorings.
1 - Black Forest, Germany
So called why so thick that it does not allow the sun's rays to penetrate it, the Black Forest has always inspired fairy tales and legends. In addition to hosting numerous panoramas, an ideal habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, it seems that too wizards and witches have found a home here.
It is said of the so-called "Freischützen", or soldiers who, aided by the devil himself, fired infallible bullets, of werewolves, of paranormal appearances like that of the oppressive monks of the monastery of St. Blasien, who remained to wander through the forest even after death. However, equally magical but more affable creatures would also live near the forest, however the main inhabitants of these places would be witches, responsible for bad weather, plant deaths and animal diseases.
Despite these terrible legends, the Black Forest continues, with its charm, to attract visitors from all over the world.