James Crouchman travelled mainly on foot across Bulgaria's North West - the mountainous lands between the Danube and the border with Serbia, today the Bulgarian province of Montana. He explored and documented on film an area full of history, where dialects overlap and once gold and silver miners came from as far as Saxony, brought in by the Ottoman Turks.

James: I met Asparuh from Glavanovtsi village. He gave me apples and told me he disliked Churchill. He was five during the worst bombing of WWII, but still remembers Allied planes flying overhead to target the oil fields in Romania just across the Danube, before returning and unloading their unused bombs on this part of Bulgaria. He told me about the sound the explosions made, echoing for miles around.

From Glavanovtsi I walked nearly 100km over four days to Belogradchik, crossing mountains and taking detours to villages on the way. People would often stop me and give me food or drink. In Protopopintsi village, two old ladies invited me in to their garden and gave me 'compot', not the British sort but fresh fruit juice from figs and peaches. It's a fascinating area, one that deserves to be spoken about more than just in terms of GDP and employment figures.

Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW
Bulgaria NW

Photography © James Crouchman

Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

Milka_3

 

 

Nikola Mihov was a prominent Bulgarian army commander at the turn of the XX century. A career officer who managed to stay clear of politics in the turbulent 1930s, he ran the country's Military Academy till 1941. In 1942 he became a defence minister in Bulgaria's Nazi-allied government. In the summer of 1943 General Mihov was appointed as one of the three regents to the boy King Simeon after the death of his father King Boris.

Just over a year later, after the Communist takeover of Bulgaria, Nikola Mihov's fate took a dramatic turn – he was arrested, taken to the Soviet Union for questioning, then returned, put on show trial in Sofia and executed together with 96 other statesmen and prominent Bulgarians. They were all shot and buried in a mass grave on 1-2 February 1945.

Lyudmila Doytchinova was Nikola Mihov's niece. She remembered vividly the day her uncle vanished.

 

Filmed in Sofia, 2008

Published in YOUR STORY

"When I first moved to Sofia, I knew hardly anyone, and spent most of my free days wandering the streets around ulitsa Pirotska, taking photos and drinking coffee in 'Halite'.

One of the first people I got to know was a fellow English photographer, a 50-something divorcee working for a financial institution in Sofia. In emails he referred to the city as 'So Fear' and the name stuck. It became some kind of title to our photography of our Sofia. For a year I lived in a flat with paper-thin double glazing next to a busy junction on Dondukov, so the sound of So Fear for me has always been a trolley bus pulling away from traffic lights, perhaps why I take so many pictures of public transport. "

Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear

Photography © James Crouchman

Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria