Asia > Middle East > Turkey > Marmara (region) > Eastern Thrace > Kırklareli
Kırklareli is a city in Eastern Thrace, the northwestern part of Turkey, near the border with Bulgaria. In 2021 the population was estimated as 58,223. It's industrial and doesn't have much in the way of tourist sights, but as the provincial capital Kırklareli has many business travellers and is well supplied with hotels and other amenities.
This area is close to the border and historically had many Bulgarians (who called it Lozengrad, Лозенград, "Vineyard Town") and Greeks (who called it Sarànta Ekklisiès, Σαράντα Εκκλησιές, "forty churches", rendered into Turkish as "Kırk Kilise"). It was fought over and had spells of occupation by both, the latest by the Bulgarians in 1912 and by Greece after 1918. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne drew the present border and mandated population exchanges, so those others were deported while Turks from around Thessaloniki were re-settled across Turkish Thrace. It obviously no longer needed forty churches and the name mutated into Kırklareli, "Forties Place". That name had also been used from 1363 when 40 assault troops of Sultan Murad I died in taking the town: Thrace was the Ottoman power base for a century before they captured Constantinople.
The town became a provincial capital after independence. It's in the Istranca foothills and has developed industry but is far enough out to escape the metropolitan sprawl of Istanbul. Its principal industries are based on food, textiles, plastic and packaging, metal-working, casting, cement and glass.
Kale Seyahat ("Castle Travel") buses run hourly from Istanbul Bayrampaşa, taking 3 hours 30 min via Saray and Vize, for an adult fare of 100 TL.
The 1 bus station is in town centre.
By road from Istanbul city follow O-3 / E80, and from IST airport follow O-7 till it joins O-3. Quickest is to stay on that until branching north on E87; a slower but shorter route is by D567 onto D020 through Saray and Vize.
From west Europe cross the border at Kapikule then head east on E80 to the junction with D020. But from the Bulgarian coast cross at Dereköy and follow E87 south.
Kırklareli lost its railway service in 1992. The nearest station is Edirne but in 2021 all trains across Thrace are suspended.
Town is compact but you need wheels to explore the wider area.
- 1 Kırklareli Museum, Eski Belediye Binası, Mustafa Kemal Blv 26, ☏ . Daily 08:30-17:30. This is the regional museum, with historical and cultural exhibits from this part of Thrace.
- 2 Hızırbey Mosque was built in 1383. It was restored in 1824 and 2009 but in 2021 is closed indefinitely. Adjacent are the Hızırbey Baths and Arastra bedestan (covered bazaar) built at the same time.
- Ottoman fountains: well preserved examples are Paşa Çeşme 100 m east of Arastra, and Kadı Çeşmesi 100 m northeast, with Gerdanlı Çeşmesi another 200 m.
- 3 Atatürk House, Yayla Cd, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:30-12:30, 13:30-17:30. This is a replica of Kemal Atatürk's birthplace in Thessaloniki.
- Ali Rıza Efendi Kültür Evi is a small museum in a traditional wooden house just north of the Atatürk House. Yayla mosque is adjacent.
- 4 Forty Martyrs Memorial is a modern neo-classical monument to forty "raiders" (think commandos) who died in the assault of 1363, when the Ottoman Sultan Murad I wrested the town from Byzantine rule.
- 5 Kırklareli Dam has flooded a long branching valley. The lakeside is a popular picnic spot and has cafes.
- 6 Dupnisa Cave is a remarkable show cave up in the mountains, see Demirköy. Approach via Üsküp and Sarpdere.
- Keep fit: there's about a dozen gyms and fitness centres in town. Visitors may be able to pay-as-you-go or negotiate short memberships.
Migros opposite the bus station is open daily 08:30-22:00.
- There are two main strips. Istiklal Cd (parallel to main street, 400 m west) has Izabella Pizza, Semazen Konya Mutfağı, Nar Bistro, Burger Kingg, Sekoreç, Osmanlı köyü köftecisi and Atakan Koftecisi.
- The strip just north of the museum has Ciğercim, Mojo Burger, Gurdallar and Küçük Mustafa Köftecisi.
- By the bus station are Irmak Döner, Dürüm House, Dostlar, Köfteci Seyfettin and Ziyafet çiğköfte.
Many cafes serve beer - Efendy Beer Cafe wishes you to be in no doubt of this. Places primarily for drinking rather than eating mostly remained closed in 2021.
- Line Suite Hotel, Karacaibrahim 2 (200 m north of bus station), ☏ . Central, comfy and friendly place. B&B double 700 TL.
- Best Hotel Bilgic 100 m north of Line Suite gets poor reviews.
- 1 Lozengrad Hotel, Mutlu Sk 2-8, ☏ , email@example.com. Opened in 2015, this hotel has a roof bar and restaurant. Clean and efficient. B&B double 500 TL.
- 2 Moda Hotel, Yeni Göçmen Evleri Sk 5, ☏ . This gets great reviews for comfort and service. B&B double 400 TL.
- 3 Marbes Hotel, Rauf Denktaş Blv 14/1, ☏ . On main highway south edge of town, handy for motorists, free parking. B&B double 300 TL.
- Kaya Palas Hotel is next to the Marbes, similar price and quality.
- Akkus Kaya is the next along, mixed reviews.
- 4 Royal Bilgiç Hotel, Babaeski Yolu, ☏ . Clean and comfy, a little further out. B&B double 300 TL.
- Evim Butik Hotel is a basic place on D020, 500 m southwest of the main junction.
Kırklareli and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Dec 2021, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Edirne, once the Ottoman capital, has a great collection of antiquities, yet most travellers pass it by on the way between Europe and Istanbul.
- Demirköy across the hills has a medieval iron foundery - take in Dupnisa Cave on the way. But its main attraction is the Black Sea resort of Iğneada.
- Vize to the east has a well-preserved Byzantine-era cathedral, now a mosque.
|Routes through Kırklareli|
|Varna ← Burgas ← Turkish-Bulgarian border ←||N S||→ Junction (W/E) → Uzunköprü → Keşan|