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A disappearing Bulgaria through the camera of Georgi Hadzhiev

Photo: Facebook /Georgi Hadzhiev

A photographer, motorcyclist and musician, Georgi Hadzhiev has dedicated much of his time to exploring the forsaken territories in his native Bulgaria. He is looking for villages hidden high up in the mountains at over 1,000 metres altitude. "This is my priority because these villages will soon disappear from the map of Bulgaria, just as they have disappeared from the statistics of the country's population - they are completely depopulated," says the photographic seeker of pieces of the living past in an interview with BNR’s Hristo Botev Channel.

Entering the depopulated villages in the Stara Planina Mountain (the Balkan Range), Georgi photographs the desolate crumbling houses, steeped in the history of hundreds of human destinies.

"That's why I'm in a hurry so I can photograph those which are still surviving. Because there are houses which are 200 or 300 years old that are still being built, but one day none of them will no longer be there because no one maintains them”, says Georgi.

"It's sad, but I have learned to look at these landscapes from the perspective of one who feels proud. I think that these villages should be known and remembered by people because they have been the bearers of our traditions in the past. They have preserved our traditions, faith, ethnicity during the long centuries of the Ottoman rule. They are the reason why Bulgaria still exists to this day”.

"The few remaining people in these places are supported by the Bulgarian spirit nestled deep in their souls, in the traditions, the warm attitude to the pieces of arable land, to their animals,” Georgi Hadzhiev believes. “These are the feelings of the Bulgarians which have been nurtured in families for centuries and which, unfortunately, thanks to the urbanization, we had to abandon. Interestingly, more and more people are beginning to feel the need to return to these things, and some are doing it. In these God-forsaken villages, I also see people rebuilding houses, cultivating their backyards, attitudes are starting to change… I think it's time to return to these places."

Interview of Lyubomira Konstantinova, BNR’s Hristo Botev Channel

Photos: Facebook /Georgi Hadzhiev

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