Çorlu (pronounced CHOR-loo) is a rapidly growing industrial city in Eastern Thrace, Turkey with more than 200,000 inhabitants. Administratively, Çorlu is a town (ilçe) under the Tekirdağ province (il), despite having a larger population than Tekirdağ.
Çorlu's history dates back to 1000 BC, when it was called Tzirallum, although you will have little clue in town about this long past.
Buses from Istanbul depart at about any time (except late at night), costing 12 TL. İstanbul Seyahat (tel 444 59 59, dialed without a prefix anywhere in Turkey, except cell phones from which +90 212 444 59 59 should be dialed) is one of the bus companies connecting Corlu with Istanbul.
There are minibuses run by Elbirlik Koop., leaving on fixed hours (about every 15 minutes between 06:30 and 21:00 daily) from nearby coastal city of Tekirdağ, which cost 7 TL pp and take around 30 minutes.
There are also minibus taxis (dolmuş taksi) which start from near the army base in the centre of town. These offer an express service to the surrounding towns, the coastal villages, Tekirdağ, Edirne, and even Istanbul, for not much more than the bus. The downside is that the times tend not to be fixed—the taxi leaves when it is full.
The buses go to the main otogar in Istanbul, although you can specify a through ticket, which will mean (for a small surcharge) you can be dropped on the Asian side, usually in Uskudar or Kadikoy. Small service buses also offer free transfers to main routes from either the bus station or the bus company's office. In terms of time, it takes around 2 hours to the main Istanbul bus station when it is busy, another half hour to either cross Istanbul to the Asian side or to get to Ataturk airport, and perhaps another hour to transfer from there to the new airport, Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW IATA) , on the Asian side.
Çorlu's tiny 1 bus station/otogar (especially when considering the size of the city it serves) lies at the western edge of the city centre, with very frequent (more than once every minute during daytime) minibuses to downtown departing from or calling at the bus stop on the street next to it. A leisurely stroll takes only about 20 minutes to central square from otogar, though, so that's an option too if you don't have a heavy backpack.
Since the city terminal cannot handle all the bus traffic most buses stop at Orion Mall crossroad. If you need to arrive this (eastern) part of the city, you need not to go to the terminal (otogar).
The 2 train station lies at a rather inconvient location 5 km northwest of the city centre. Minibuses, the timetables of which are arranged with the arrival of the trains, pick up passengers from in front of the station for the city centre.
Serving as some kind of regional airport, 3 Tekirdağ Çorlu Airport (TEQ IATA) is 15 km east of the city centre. Although it was designed as an international airport (when it was opened in 1998, flights from the ex-Soviet countries were directed here to relieve the traffic of Istanbul's Atatürk International), there is only a single commercial flight serving TEQ, a domestic one from Ankara run by AnadoluJet. Buses provided by AnadoluJet in connection with the departures and arrivals operate between the airport and most of the major towns in Thrace, and the outer suburbs of Istanbul such as Beylikdüzü.
Çorlu is located on highways D100 and O-3/E80 (motorway/toll-road) which link Istanbul with Europe. There are also secondary roads from other directions.
It takes just over an hour to get to Istanbul which is 100 km away, although this can be doubled during busy times.
The centre is flat, very compact and walkable. Omurtak Caddesi, two blocks north of Atatürk Bulvarı is the main drag of the city centre.
Cheap minibuses (dolmuş) (which costs around 1.50 TL per people from one edge of the city to the other, i.e. a trip of 25–30 minutes) ply the route along the main road in and out of town (Ataturk Boulevard, Atatürk Bulvarı, which skirts the southern edge of city centre). There are also buses on the same routes—run by the Çorlu Municipality (Turkish: Çorlu Belediyesi, which you will see on buses). The fare on the municipality buses are cheaper than minibuses (around 0.90 TL) provided that you have a magnetic bus card. Cash payment option is also possible on the bus, however a bit more expensive (~1.50 TL). Most buses stop running after midnight but minibuses do not have a stable schedule.
You might be tempted to cycle around the city, since it is flat. However, like the rest of Turkey, motorists do not yield or respect motorcyclists, let alone cyclists. If you really have to cycle around the city or between the surrounding villages, keep on the safety lane (wherever available) with extreme caution and always yield for the motorists. Else there can be dire consequences.
Çorlu has very little in terms of sights to pursue as once-elegant old town landscape of mostly wooden houses were knocked down in favour of soulless concrete blocks due to urbanization pressures.
- 1 Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii) (at the central square, downtown). While not an architectural pearl, this quite small-ish mosque with a single dome atop dating back to 1521 and built by and named after Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnicifent is one of the very few medieval buildings left intact in the city. Free.
Wander around the villages north of the D100, as you enter Çorlu, by bicycle. There are many quiet, shady spots under trees to have picnics, especially behind the Emlak Bank housing estate. There are no separate bicycle lanes and the vehicle drivers yield absolutely no priority to the bicycle riders.
Çorlu is one of the major centres of textiles mass production in the country. 1 Avantaj (open 10:00-20:30) is an outlet stores complex 10 km north of the city on the highway to Çerkezköy, where many individual shops of textile companies (as well as others) surround a central yard, putting together a downtown ambience. Some stores offer tax-free shopping opportunities there, making it popular among shoppers from nearby Bulgaria and Greece. Some textile factories also have accompanying sale shops, scattered along the highways in the outskirts of the city.
At the eastern end of the city, on the highway to Istanbul, stand two indoors shopping malls named 2 Orion and Trend Arena, typical of many that sprouted up in most Turkish cities within the last decade. Many minibuses head there from city centre.
- Tea in the municipality tea garden, in the centre of town. It has a sleepy atmosphere, a reserved family enclosure where no one will disturb you, and is the cheapest cuppa in town. You can also chat to the friendly locals, who come from all over Turkey.
- Bars: There are small sized bars at the city center:
- On Kumyol cad. (south of Omurtak cad.): most bars here are western style
- On Abidin Efendi sok. (north of Omurtak cad.): these are mostly "beer-house"s—not western style—where they play Turkish music, are almost always frequented by men, and have limited beverage selection.
There are surely various bars/beer-houses outside of the center with lower prices and special offers. It is best to visit those with a local. Almost all bars close by 01:00 or 02:00.
The town of Velimeşe, 12 km north of Çorlu, is known for its local boza — a traditional winter drink of the Balkans which is a thick wheat ale with a negligible alcohol content that is both mildly sweet and slightly sour at the same time.
- 1 Öney Boza, Çarşı Cd. 13, Velimeşe (near the central square), ☎ . 09:00-21:00. In operation since 1940, this small and neat family-run shop practically has nothing else but boza on the offer. 2.50 TL for a large glass of boza, 7.50 TL a litre bottle. Cash only.
- 1 Bormalı Otel, Omurtak Cad. 1, Uğur Mumcu Parkı yanı (on the main street, about 10 min walk west of central square; next to Uğur Mumcu Park), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: noon. Rooms with satellite TV, air-con, wireless internet, and en suite bathrooms. Free carpark.
Northwestern part of the town (off the road to Çerkezköy from city centre) includes a district called Kore Mahallesi which is exclusively inhabited by Roma people. It is often avoided by the locals and travellers are strongly advised not to venture further into this district.
Çorlu is a good place to get private medical care. There is a very reasonable, highly professional private hospital on Ataturk Boulevard, on the left as you come from Istanbul. A range of cheap check-ups is available (for around €5 each), and there is a good-value 3-star hotel next door. Given Corlu's compact size and relative lack of traffic, this is a good place to recuperate after hard travelling around the region, and get minor ailments fixed before moving on.
Tap water is never drinkable, so it is best to buy bottled or demijohn water.
The air of Çorlu (especially in winters) is among the most polluted in the country.
|Routes through Çorlu|
|Plovdiv ← Edirne ← Junction (N/S) ←||W E||→ Junction (W) → Istanbul → Ankara|