FORGOTTEN VILLAGES IN THE SOUTHEAST
In the Southeast of Bulgaria, bordering Greece, some remote villages have been left to decay. The villages depopulated when people moved in search of better perspectives. Where people used to live, where they went to school, worked, fell in love and built families, is today an area that is being forgotten. It's like the people's presence never mattered. And that everything would return to nature regardless. Decay is merciless. It hauntingly shows that life goes on and time cannot be stopped.
In this album are pictures of the following villages: Huhla, Siv Kladenets, Mandritsa, Dolno Lukovo and Gorno Lukovo. All of these are near Ivailovgrad, the central city of this region. Unfortunately, the area deals with fast depopulation. Many people moved to other cities in Bulgaria or went abroad. The large houses cannot be maintained, as there is nobody to do that. There are empty schools that were once full of bright pupils. Shops that helped sustain a local economy. Churches where people found hope. Fields that were full of crops. Only imagination can make the villages come alive again. Uninterrupted is the cheerful singing of birds, as if something like misery never occurs.
Over the years, nature slowly reclaims decaying buildings. Each of these buildings is in a different stage of decay. In the beginning, plants start covering the window frames. Years later, the roof falls apart and eventually, the whole structure collapses. Then, nature grabs the building's foundations and slowly covers them in green. As more and more time passes, the building seems to never have existed. It is a sad situation and as there is currently little hope for renovations in these villages, it is necessary to document them. Because in years, nothing will remain to be seen.
This album shows the critical state of these villages. The goal of this album is to just point out that these places exist and that they should not be forgotten. They will most likely not be around for another hundred years. They have been places where people lived their lives, places that were once called home. Just imagining the long history of these villages, full of life and beauty, is a stark contrast to their dark, present state and future. Even though this album might sadden viewers and make zero change to the situation, the point is to make people think about them. Because a place that is fading away and never thought about, has already ceased to exist.
I published a photo book with pictures of abandoned buildings of Bulgaria. You may find out more on this page.
Another place I visited is Zherka village, which is south of Kardzhali. Right near Kirkovo, 1,8 kilometres uphill on a sandy road. Not accessible by car unless it's a very powerful 4x4 perhaps. The walk is scenic. As the place officially doesn't exist anymore, it's not on any map. It was, I must say, one of the most intriguing places I have visited. Below the album is a video of my visit as well.