WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:15

As you drive through a rather uninspiring section of the Danubian Plain, known mainly for its extreme summer and winter temperatures, you suddenly see a church spire jotting up on the horizon.

where in bulgaria are you 119-120.jpg
© Anthony Georgieff

Church spires are untypical for Orthodoxy, so your attention has been grabbed. You approach, and you enter what you thought would turn out to be one of those dilapidated villages that dot northern Bulgaria.

Indeed, in the central square you see the obligatory Communist-era monument and next to it a grounded Soviet-era plane, a favourite climbing spot for local kids. But as you take one of the side streets leading away from the square you end up in another world more befitting the early 20th century Hapsburg Empire. You are in one of Bulgaria's two... German villages: the telltale architecture, the abandoned Catholic church dedicated by someone from as far as Amsterdam, the German language-inscribed icons of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and so on and so forth.

There are no longer any Germans living here as Hitler lured them to go back to the Heimat whence he steadfastly sent them to the Eastern Front, and the odd couple or two who remained were too scared to concede their German-ness under Communism. But exploring the modern archaeology of the site is bound to change your perceptions of Bulgaria as being fairly monolithic forever.

Where in Bulgaria are you?

Issue 119-120

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