Şarköy District is a string of towns and villages on the coast and just inland on the hills, sandwiched between the rolling hills of Mt Ganos to north and the Sea of Marmara to south, in the south of Eastern Thrace, northwestern Turkey.
Also known as the Thracian wine coast, Şarköy District is a reasonable day-trip while in the vicinity (e.g., Tekirdağ), and is good to take a dip in the sea, or to shop for local wines.
Until 1920s, when the governments of Turkey and Greece agreed on a population transfer (in which Greeks of Turkey were to be expelled to Greece while Turks of Greece were to be expelled to Turkey), most of the district's population was consisting of local Greeks. Since then, the district is populated by Turks originally from Greek Macedonia and their descendants.
Mt. Ganos (Ganos Dağı, also known as Mt. Işıklar, Işıklar Dağı, and Mt. Tekir, Tekirdağ, which grants the nearby city of Tekirdağ its name, in modern Turkish), a range of low-lying hills which rise to 945 mt at its highest (although hardly impressive by world standards, this is the second highest point of Turkish Thrace, which mostly consists of flatlands), forms the northern border of the district, its foothills some distance inland from the coast always being within the sight of bare eyes. For much of the history, local Greek Orthodox populations considered it holy, providing yet another name for it, Heraion Oros, which literally translates "the holy mountain". As a result, ruins of many monasteries can be seen, dotting the coves and hills all over the mountain.
Much of the rural landscape of the district is covered by olive- and vineyards, the latter of which provides 40% of Turkey's total wine production. Shrimp is also another local product, fished from numerous dalyans, those clumsy-looking wooden piers streching out to the sea, always topped by a small hut on it. These structures are unique to the area, and are said to basically have the same conformation since the ancient times.
Şarköy District is named after its capital and biggest town, Şarköy (pop. 17,000). From west to east, the communities are as follow:
- Şarköy — ancient Peristeri, this town has a nice waterfront, and all urban services a traveller might expect to find.
- Eriklice — ancient Heraklitsa, this village has nice beaches with clear water (the local gossip says that the water samples for Şarköy's—now repealed—Blue Flag, which guarantees seawater purity, were actually taken from this village, which lies 10 km east from Şarköy).
- Aşağı Kalamış (A. Kalamış on road signs) — ancient Kalamisia, this is an otherwise unremarkable coastal village, save for its beach and oliveyards surrounding it.
- Mürefte — this town, second in population in the district to Şarköy, is a serious contender for being the area's main town, and it officially was the district capital during the Ottoman period. Its ancient/Greek name is Myriophyton, a fitting name as it translates "a thousand vineyards".
- Hoşköy — ancient Hora, Hoşköy, a nice town in itself, is also one of the bigger settlements along this strech of the coast.
- Güzelköy — just inland up on the hills from Hoşköy, Güzelköy, ancient Melen, is one of the best preserved Ottoman villages in the area, with stone houses, ruins of a bathhouse, and an old mosque.
- Gaziköy — ancient Ganos, Gaziköy is a coastal village with citadel ruins and desolate beaches. Eastwards from here, Mt Ganos rises right from the coastline.
- Uçmakdere — one of the most well-known, yet (until recently) the most inaccessible settlements in the area, ancient Vidimo is a picturesque town in a valley two km inland from the sea. Thanks to its remoteness, most of its traditional wooden houses is preserved (although some badly needs some sort of renovation).
You will notice that the more east you go, the remoter, less crowded, and less urban it is along the district.
Thanks to the protective shield offered by Mt Ganos from the cold continental winds running down from the Balkans, the district enjoys a micro-climate, which is more reminiscent of a Mediterranean climate than the continental climate experienced elsewhere in Thrace—the olive trees, which are a species typically flourishing in Mediterranean climate, are here for a good reason. In short, it's always warmer (and comfortably so) than elsewhere in Thrace in winter (though expect no Antalya here—it does snow in most winters, although lighter than the rest of Thrace); summer conditions are similar with other nearby places, but the summer showers common in the north are less likely in this district (albeit, only slightly).
Unless you are heading there specifically for a swim, spring (e.g., April, when fruit trees all over the place are in full bloom) and autumn (October, time for grape harvest, and when the weather is extremely pleasant and sunny enough) months tend to be loveliest time to visit.