The mountain range of Galicica was created by tectonic shifts in the Paleozoic period (circa 300 million years ago) and is rising up right between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. The geological substrate of metamorphic silicates covered with massive spongy limestone characterize the geology of the mountain.
Relatively low mountain ranges to Southwest Albania and the communication of air masses from North to South allow penetration of warm sea currents allowing the influence of the Mediterranean climate. The large amount of water in both Lakes naturally store the heat of the day and lower the temperature difference between day and night, thus creating a moderate – continental climate. This unique interaction of geology, morphology and climatic conditions resulted in establishing an ecosystem with high biological diversity. Over a thousand plant species can be found in this unique climate, 14 of which are endemic only to this mountain. Four floral endemic species are relicts from the Pliocene epoch (circa 5 million years ago): Morina persica, Stipa mayeri, Ramonda nathaliae, Phelipaea boissieri.
There is an abundance of life on the mountain. During the spring and the summer season over 160 species of butterfly’s flutter around the mountain. The total population of vertebrate’s numbers 171 species and are fully recorded and studied. The Mountain is also a sanctuary for 124 species of birds, 19 mammals, 18 reptiles and 10 amphibians. But yet, the true trademark and the spirit of the mountain is the Lynx (Lynx martioni) – Balkan Lynx. This magnificent and elusive animal is indigenous to Republic of N.Macedonia and its population varies between 30 to 35 individuals.
Since their number is quite small, mainly resulting from activities of man, a special program to protect and recover the population of the Balkan Lynx has been implemented since 2006. The park covers an area of 25 000 ha, of which 985 ha are strictly protected zones, making it a place of universal and national significance. The island of Golem Grad, at Lake Prespa has great zoological significance since it is a sanctuary and a nesting place for a huge amount of endangered birds such as the White Heron, cormorant, pelican and the Alpine Swift. The highest peaks of the mountain like Magaro are sanctuaries for the Golden Eagle, the white-headed vulture and the grey falcon while the marshes near the village of Stenye (Lake Prespa) is an ecosystem which holds prehistoric life dating back to the tertiary period.
Galicica National Park is a natural treasure of inestimable value. The park is a haven for naturalists and zoologists from all over the world, but also for all lovers of nature and its wonders. Worth mentioning are the 400 km of well-marked hiking and biking trails, as well as places for takeoff and landing for lovers of paragliding. The mountain offers excellent conditions for Nordic skiing in winter and a place where speleologists can explore the largest cave on the Mountain, Samatska Dupka.
The plant life in the park is extremely rich and unique. In the NP, thousands of plant species have been recorded so far, of which 176 of the woody flora, representing 58.4% of the Macedonian autochthonous wood species. Of particular importance for the protection is the presence of many relics for which Galicica in the past often represented a place where they found shelter before the onset of ice periods. Of these, the most significant are those originating from the Pliocene and managed to survive the four ice periods of the Pleistocene. Such are Morina persica, Stipa mayeri, Ramonda nathaliae and Phelipaea boissieri and others.
A large number of endemic species are also of special interest for protection. There are several types of endemics on Galichica:
- a) Balkan – whose number is so large that their enumeration would mean enumeration of most of the species encountered at Galicica
- b) The Southern Balkan – whose number is very large, and the following species deserve particular attention: Aydga piskoi, Erodium guicciardii, Oxytropis purpurea, Astragalus baldaccii, Poa galicicae, Lilium heldreichii, Arabis bryoides and many others
- c) Local ones – that can be found only on the slopes of Galicica and nowhere else. Their number is currently 14, but according to the current indications and the intensity of the flora study in the national park, their number will increase in the future. The local endemic are: Centaurea soskae, Crocus cvijici, Laserpitium ochridanum, Astragalus mayeri, Helichrysum zivojinii, Nepeta ernesti-mayeri, Alyssum galicicae, Thymus ciliatopubescens, Thymus skopjansis, Geranium cinereum, ssp. subcaulescens var. rupestris, Echinops bannaticus ssp. Prespaensis, Centaurea galicicae, Dianthus galicicae and Sempervivum galicicum.
Of no less importance are a large number of rare plants that they have and elsewhere, but they rarely meet or their presence at Galicica is unexpected. Interesting is the example of Celtis glabra which naturally grows on the mountain Kafkaz, but also it is found on the island Golem Grad in the Prespa Lake, which is depopulated by the Kafkaz several thousand kilometers. The data on the state and distribution of populations of plant species in NPG are at least insufficient and fragmentary. Particularly concerned is the lack of data on the status of populations of species with a low range of spread (for example, a large proportion of endemic and relict species).
Unlike flora, fauna in the national park is very little studied. This is especially true for invertebrates whose number is certainly very large and characteristic of this mountain, which with its peculiarities is responsible for the appearance of high biodiversity. Unlike invertebrates, vertebrates are recorded and partially studied. There are 171 kinds of fish-free vertebrates in the national park, of which 10 amphibians, 18 reptiles, 124 birds and 19 mammals.
The presence of the wild goat, lynx and bear of the mammal, which is rare in other parts of Europe and the large and small cormorant and pelicans of birds that naturally inhabit the Prespa Lake and the island of Golem Grad, are the presence of the wild goat.
Due to the connection with the Ohrid Lake, extensive studies were conducted in the aquatic ecosystem of the spring at the monastery St. Naum and the presence of some rare species in it has been noted.
At the moment, there are no complete data on the condition and size of the populations of more important animal species in NPG, but in general it can be said that they are in good condition. An exception is the population of the Balkan lynx, which after a break of 20 years is again spotted on the space, but its number is far below the biological capacity of the space. Also, for many bird species there are indications that their populations are significantly reduced compared to the previous period. This is especially true for the birds and the vultures, and it is the same as the drastically reduced stock of the space.
There are numerous monuments of great historical and artistic significance in the park, which are one of the strong reasons for visiting the park. As an integral part of the geographical area, the cultural heritage is a picture of the time in which it was created. Monuments of culture in the park, in addition to their number, are characterized by a great variety, therefore they are divided into several groups: archaeological sites, churches, monasteries, cave churches and monuments.
One of the monuments in the park, which in its importance is one of the more important of its kind, not only within the park and in the region, but also in wider, and at the same time strictly protected areas, is the island of Golem Grad.
From the group of churches, monasteries, cave churches, on the territory of the park are registered monuments: from the monuments of Byzantine style with paintings of European importance is the church “St. Bogorodica Zaumska “from 1361 AD. The church has conservation interventions and is in good condition accessible to visitors. In the village of Velestovo, the church “St.Bogorodica” which is from the 15th century. From the cave churches under protection are placed: the church “St.Bogorodica” in the village of Pestani from the 14th century, the church “St.Bogorodica” in the auto camp Gradiste, the Church “St. Stephen”, which dates back to the middle of the IX century, is a canned painting.
From the cave churches that have not yet been put under protection are: St. Peter and Paul Church on Prespa Lake, near the border of the Republic of N. Macedonia with the Republic of Albania, the Church of St. Petka, between the village of Stenje and the village of Konjsko located on the rocks on the shores of the Prespa Lake, the church “St.Iliјa” near the village of Trpejca, which is from the 14th century.