The Last Man Standing in the Rhodope Mountains
This is a long-term project which started back in 2007 and whose purpose is to document some of the last surviving authentic rural communities in contemporary Europe. During the course of those 11 years, Valery Poshtarov captured the last mountain people, for which he had to visit no less than 818 villages to find his “Rhodope man”. Thus, he managed to record the vanishing of a whole culture, quickly giving in to the fast-paced globalization.
"Villages with a population of about 350-400 people 11 years back, are now either inhabited by no more than 2-3 persons or have completely disappeared.", shares Valery Poshtarov.
The Rhodope Mountains spread over 18 000 sq. km. area with deep gorges, vast hills of greenery and rugged peaks. With their serene glory, the mountains proudly reign over the Thracian valley on the North and the South. Battered by inclement northern winds and caressed by the southern breezes from the Aegean Sea, this once home of myths and heroes, of Orpheus and Bacchae, saw for centuries on little towns, lively villages and hamlets of just 3-4 km distance one from another, nestled on the opposite mountain slopes, playing the role of stronghold of trade and tradition.
Today, the Mountains are depopulated, over 95% of their territory. Young people born here have long emigrated, the schools are closed and most of the villages are ghost dwellings with dilapidated empty houses exposed only to forgetfulness and the mercy of Gods. The few remained denizens are extremely happy to welcome every chance visitor like a family member. Braving the solitude and the elements; the last man standing in the Rhodope is a proud epitome of the human race.