Çerkezköy is a city in Eastern Thrace.
Çerkezköy started its life as a village for the Circassian refugees from Caucasia in the 19th century (hence the name Çerkez-köy, which literally means "Circassian village"); prior to that, the area was known as Türbedere ("tomb rivulet"), due to the tomb of an ascetic dervish of the Bektashi Order, who lived his years near a local stream. The town was fully burnt down by the Bulgarian army in 1913, during the Balkan Wars, which may explain the absence of any historic monuments. The population of today's Çerkezköy, numbering about 100,000, is a mix of typical Thracian locals who are mostly descendants of the Balkan emigrants who settled in the area in the late 1800s/early 1900s and much more recent immigrants from central and eastern Turkey.
Çerkezköy today is a rapidly growing city of drab apartment blocks, surrounded by a diverse range of industries. You will have a hard time for finding a reason to spend time more than absolutely necessary in this place.
In local slang, Çerkezköy is simply known as Çerkez, though without giving much thought to its original meaning.
A world record
Setting a world record for being the train service with the longest delay to arrive at its destination, it was here in the station of Çerkezköy (then spelled Tcherkesskeuy on the timetables) that a Paris-bound Orient Express service was stranded in a snowdrift for five days in February 1929, during such a legendarily cold winter that even the saltwater of Istanbul's Bosphorus was covered with thick ice. (Some argue that the train was actually trapped in a blizzard near the now derelict station of the village of Kabakça, then Kabakdja, 40 km east of Çerkezköy on the track from Istanbul.) This was one of the events that inspired Agatha Christie for Murder on the Orient Express, although the plot refers to the location where the train was stuck as Vinkovci in what is today eastern Croatia.
Çerkezköy's 1 railway station, which lies around 2 km east of the city centre, welcomes three trains from Istanbul's Sirkeci station daily: A morning train departing 8:30AM which continues to Uzunköprü on the Greek border, another one leaving Sirkeci at 3:50PM and continuing to Kapıkule on the Bulgarian border via Çorlu and Edirne while the third train has its terminus in Çerkezköy and departs 6PM. A train trip from Istanbul takes a little more than 2 hours.
From Europe, the daily Bosphorus Express overnight service departs Bucharest's Gara de Nord station at 12:13PM. It also calls in Sofia at 6:55PM where a carriage from Belgrade (departure time 7:50AM in the morning the same day) is attached. The train arrives in Çerkezköy during the early morning hours the next day on its way to Istanbul.
Also, a once-weekly motorail train by EuroTurk Express [dead link] now connects Bonn in Germany with Çerkezköy. It's a convenient way of bypassing the narrow highways in the Balkans. The train departs from Bonn-Beuel station every Saturday at noon, arriving two nights later during the afternoon. Fares start at €139 for passengers, cars at €279.
By bus and minibus
Çerkezköy is connected to Istanbul by hourly buses, which takes around an hour.
The local 2 bus station, where the above buses and minibuses come and go, is just south of the town centre.
A motorway, branching off the main O-3/E80 (toll road), connect the city with Istanbul (roughly 100 km) and Edirne and ends almost at the city centre. Another well surfaced highway up to motorway standards connect with Çorlu to south and a narrower but still well surfaced one with Saray in the north.
Area code of Çerkezköy is (+90) 282.
- Saray — a smaller nearby town, but with much more of a local flavour. Also serves as a hub for the beautiful forests of the Istranca Mountains, as well as beaches and historic towns on the Black Sea coast.