Kırklareli, is the capital of Kırklareli Province in Eastern Thrace, on the European part of Turkey. The province has a coastline on the Black Sea. It is 200 Kms from İstanbul, 60 Kms from Edirne and 45 Kms from Bulgaria Malko Tarnavo Border.
It is not clearly known when the city was founded, nor under what name. The Romans called it Salmydessus and the Byzantine Greeks called it "Forty Churches" (Saranta Ekklisiès). In the 14th century this was translated to Turkish and called "Kırk Kilise". Following the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, sanjaks became cities and on December 20, 1924, Kırk Kilise's name was changed to Kırklareli, meaning The Place of the Forties. The denomination Kırklareli was already used years before 1924, for example in the contemporary literature concerning the Balkan Wars of 1912–13. The Bulgarian name of the town is Lozengrad (Лозенград) which means Vineyard Town.
Ongoing archeological excavations in the city support the claim that the area was the location of one of the first organized settlements on the European continent, with artifacts from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.
The settlement and its surrounding areas were conquered by the Persians in 513–512 BC, during the reign of King Darius I.
In 914 during the Bulgarian invasion in Adrianopol led by Simeon I, the settlement was captured by the Bulgarians and was under Bulgarian rule until 1003 when it was lost against the Byzantines.
The Ottoman Turks took the city and its region from the Byzantines in 1363, during the reign of Sultan Murad I.
The city was damaged during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829).
According to 1878 г. Record "Ethnography of the Wilayahs Adrianopol, Monastir and Thessaloniki" Kırk Kilise was inhabited by 6 700 Bulgarians, 2 850 Greeks и 2 700 belonging to other ethnic groups.
According to the official Ottoman census of 1906–1907 (published in "The Ottoman Population 1830–1914: Demographic and Social Characteristics" by Kemal H. Karpat), the ethnic-religious breakdown in the Sanjak of Kırk Kilise was: 22,022 Muslims; 14,154 Greek Orthodox; 1,599 Bulgarian Orthodox; and 789 Jews.
During the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) Kırk Kilise was occupied by Bulgaria, and then by Greece in the aftermath of World War I (1914–1918) resulting in mass imigration of Bulgarian population. Following the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922) the city was retaken by the Turks on November 10, 1922. According to the 1923 population exchange agreement between Greece and Turkey, the Greeks of the city were exchanged for the Muslims (Turks, Pomaks, Karadjaovalides and Albanians) living in Greece. Most of the inhabitants of the city are Turks who formerly lived in Thessaloniki until the First Balkan War of 1912. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) which defines Turkey's western border in Thrace also defined the western boundaries of the Kırklareli Province.
The city and its immediate surroundings have the potential to become a center of attraction for metropolises and industrial zones in the region with all the archeological richness, unspoiled natural beauty and cultural infrastructure.
Though Kırklareli has a great importance in terms of cultural history, it has been overlooked far too long until recently and the city has not been able to attract interest it deserved. Recent archeological work in and around the town has revealed clear evidence on the signifiance of this region in cultural interaction between the Near Eastern-Anatolian and European-Balkan cultures. In addition to archeological research, new initiatives addressing historical identity and natural richness jointly have started to enliven “Culture and Nature” tourism in Kırklareli.
The historic center of Kırklareli especially contains siginificant examples of the Early Ottoman architecture including Hızırbey Complex, Yayla Neighbourhood, which forms a part of the historical core of the city of Kırklareli, is a point of attraction with its peculiar stone architecture and well preserved mansion houses around a spacious square and side streets.