What is the highest mountain in Europe? Too often people mistakenly believe that the mountain chain of the Alps is the highest within the borders of the continent of Europe. But is it true? No, it isn’t. The highest peak in the Alps is Mont Blanc. It rises to 4810 m. The notorious with its pyramid shape Matterhorn peak rises to “only” 4478 meters. Another mountain range, however, is less known, but offers much higher altitudes and harsh landscapes. This is the Caucasus.
Located in the extreme Southeast of the continent, the Caucasus is the highest mountain range in Europe. It extends between Black and Caspian Sea and marks the border between Europe and Asia.
It extends the territory of Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran. The highest peak in the Caucasus and in Europe is Mount Elbrus, 5642 m high. It is located in Russia, not far from the border with Georgia.
Caucasus is young folded mountain chain. It is part of the Alpine-Himalayan mountain system that stretches the entire length of Eurasia. Like most young folded mountains, the Caucasus is also a highly seismic area.
Caucasus mountain range acts as a climatic barrier to the warm air masses, coming from the south and cold air masses, coming from the north. Due to its altitude, the Caucasus has a very specific mountain micro-climate.
Although it falls on the border between subtropical and temperate climate zone, the higher parts of Caucasus are covered with ice and snow throughout the year. Glaciers can be found over 3000 meters above sea level.
The variety of altitude and different types of climate is the main reason of the incredible biodiversity. The foothill of Caucasus are covered with beautiful deciduous forests. In the higher areas deciduous plants give way to coniferous forests.
At a height of over 2,000 m, the coniferous forests give way to harsh alpine landscapes. The variety of species here is also amazing! There are bears, wolves, foxes, lynxes, jackals, deer, bisons, goats as well as a huge variety of birds, amphibians and reptiles.