Language minorities of Bithynia

The Wikipedia articles on Anatolian Bulgarians, English and Bulgarian, imply that Kızderbent was far away from the other settlements where Bulgarian was spoken. That's why Bulgarians in Bulgaria became aware of the bulk of settlements in the 1860s, but Kızderbent was documented since the 1800s—and Shishmanov discusses Kızderbent in a separate chapter from the other settlements, as най-известното на европейците българско село в Мала Азия—"the most renowned European Bulgarian village in Asia Minor" (I think).

To test this out, I'm plotting the documented Bulgarian-speaking villages in Asia Minor on Google Maps. There are three listings:

I haven't been able to identify all the villages with modern-day Turkey: some villages will have been renamed, or no longer exist. Moreover, the English Wikipedia makes a laudable effort to guess the Turkish spelling of the villages from the Cyrillic, but has made some mistakes.

So herewith the listing. Villages without an "Actual Turkish" entry, I have not been able to match with modern-day locations—although they are mentioned in Turkish in Pars Tuğlacı. 1984. Bulgaristan ve Türk-Bulgar ilişkileri. Cem. The identifications may not all be correct…

CyrillicWikipedia RomanisationActual Turkish
North-Western Anatolia [Bithynia]
Коджа бунар KocabunarKocapınar
Аладжа баирAlacabairAlacabayır
Ташкеси (Ташкесен)TaşkesiTaşkesiği
Ново село (Йеникьой, Къзълджилар)Yeniköy (Novo Selo)Yeniköy
Хаджи ПаункьойHacıpaunköy
КилликKillik (also Ikinlik) Killik
Çanakkale, Lapseki, Biga [Troad]
Урумче or Дермендере or ДерменаланUrumçeDeğirmendere
Чатал тепеÇataltaş (also Çataltepe)Çataltepe
Ново село (Чифлик)Yeniköy [Çiftlik]Yeniçiftlik
СтенгелкьойStengelköy"20 km from Kerem near Biga"—ancient Parium, Greek Kamares

This is the Google map. Kızderbent is in red, the Bulgarian villages in blue. For jollies, I've added in the Tsakonian villages of Bithynia in green. I've plotted two Greek villages I know of in yellow (Demirtaş = Demirdessi, and Başköy (Μπάσκιοϊ), one of the Pistikohoria group), but there were a whole lot more.

View Anatolian Bulgarians in a larger map
Kızderbent does seem to be a way away from the other Bulgarian villages, which can explain its isolation. The only exception is Yeniköy/Novo Selo, 58 km away—if I've got the right Yeniköy. (The name, "Newville" in Bulgarian and Turkish, is fairly generic.) Then again, Söğüt and Mandıra (Greek Μάντρα, "paddock") look just as isolated.

Provided I've got the right Söğüt and the right Mandıra, of course.


  1. How do you understand the phrase "European Bulgarian"? A village in Asia that speaks Bulgarian surely is an Asian Bulgarian village. Or is "European Bulgarian" a name for the Bulgarian language, perhaps to distinguish it from now-extinct Bulgar?

  2. To be honest, I don't get it. "European" as in "migrated from Europe", sure, but it's not like Asia Minor was going to have pre-Ottoman (or pre-Byzantine, at most) Slavonic-speaking populations; why emphasise it? Bulgarians do call the Bulgar proto-Bulgarians, which is fine; but the Bulgars qua Bulgars were European too, and quite irrelevant to the migration of Bulgarians to Anatolia.

    Of course, I know no Bulgarian grammar, and Google Translate was awkward about where it placed "European", so maybe I'm missing something. I haven't actually read the chapter yet!

  3. Reading the end of Shishmanov on Kızderbent, I think I do have the wrong Yeniköy after all: there was a Yeniköy near Kızderbent which is distinct from the two Yeniköys in the lists:

    "Two other villages are mentioned for that region of Asia Minor: Pamuk-Derbent and Yeniköy. Perhaps they ceased to be Bulgarian before Kızderbent." (Shishmanov is referring explicitly to the Hellenisation of Kızderbent.)

    The only mention of the two nearby villages is in a 1943 Bulgarian article. So again, Kızderbent was probably quite isolated from the other Bulgarian-speaking settlements.

  4. John, I think it actually means "the Bulgarian village in Asia Minor most renowned to Europeans"—because of the long list of travellers who reported on it. Why so many Europeans reported on it is obvious: Kızderbent was on the highway to Bagdad, anyone doing Anatolian tourism would go through it.

  5. Το χωριό βρίσκεται νοτιοδυτικά του Izmit (Nicomedia) και βορειοδυτικά του Iznik (Nicaea).

  6. The village is located southwest of Izmit (Nicomedia) and northwest of Iznik (Nicaea).