Kırklareli, where the first urban life was seen in Thrace, is a city that draws attention with its archaeological findings. The Kırklareli Museum, where the findings obtained from the excavations in the region are exhibited, especially the ancient city of Kanlıgeçit and Aşağı Pınar Mound, sheds light on the history of the region with its rich inventory. Also, the 19th century Ottoman civil architecture examples of Kırklareli are worth seeing.
Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Complex
It is spread over a wide area at the entrance of the Lüleburgaz District. The complex built for worship, trade and education between 1569-1570. shows the feature of a complex with its mosque, arched shops, inn, bath and medrese. Built by Great Architect Sinan and his team, the complex expands over an area of approximately 40,000 square meters outside the Byzantine walls, most of which were destroyed. On the west side of the complex, a palace was built by Sokullu Mehmet Pasha for the sultan of the period.
It is in the centre of Kırklareli. It consists of a mosque, a hamam and an arasta bazaar. The Mosque was built by Köse Mihalzade Hızırbey in 1383 and restored by Yusuf Pasha of Aydos in 1824. Hamam and the Arasta Bazaar were built by Köse Mihalzade Hızırbey in 1383 and adjacent to each other. According to the inscription in the women's section, hamam was restored by Hacı Hüseyin Ağa between 1683 and 1704.
Vize Küçük Ayasofya (Gazi Süleyman Paşa Mosque)
It is situated between the inner and outer walls in the Kale neighbourhood of Vize District. It was built in the 6th century during the Justinian period and was organized as a mosque in the second half of the 14th century. It has a rectangular, almost square plan. The capitals of its marble columns are in Corinthian style.
It surrounds the north and west of the city in the Kale neighbourhood of Vize District. It is estimated that it initially was constructed in the years 72-76 BC. Later, in the Byzantine Period (527-565), it was revived by Justinian. Neatly cut bluish stones were used in the city walls at the northside of the city, which leads to the assumption that this building was rebuilt in the Late Byzantine Period.
Vize Ancient Theater
As a result of the excavations in the District of Vize, the only Roman Period theatre known so far was unearthed. The theatre has an average capacity of 4,000 spectators and the seating and walking steps are completely made of marble. A large female statue and 4 stage reliefs were also found in the theatre area. These works are exhibited in the Kırklareli Museum.
Aya Nikola Monastery
The Monastery in the Kıyıköy District is one of the best examples of Byzantine period (6-9th century) rock-cut monasteries. The church is on the ground floor, the holy spring below, and the sections for monks above. There are chambers in the form of levels carved into the rocks. On the north side, a ladder leads down to the holy spring. There is a second entrance to the east of the church.
Babaeski Mosque and Babaeski Bridge
It was built by Cedid Ali Paşa to Mimar Sinan in 1555. It is still used as a mosque. Its single-balcony minaret was destroyed during the Balkan War (1912), and was rebuilt later. The mosque is a small model of the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne
The Babaeski Bridge is another must see place in the Babaeski District. It was built in 1633 during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat IV..
Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Bridge
The bridge was built in the name of Grand Vizier Sokullu Mehmet Paşa between the years 1569-1570. The face stones are hammer dressed, and the abutment on the buttress side is robust. The upstream face of the abutment towards Lüleburgaz has the shape of a pyramid based on the half of a bihexagonal regular plan, and has maintained its original structure. The other abutment was renovated by unprofessional constructors, who rebuilt it in the shape of a cone instead of a pyramid. Yet, it is still in use.
The bridge was built in order to cross waters along the caravan and postal roads. During the Ottoman Empire, there were hundreds of construction masters under the command of one of the palace architects chosen by the chief architect of the army that went on a campaign. This team built the structures and bridges as part of the strategy. Some of these bridges were hastily made of wood. However, the Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Bridge is one of the few bridges that have survived until today and are located on the Harami Stream on the western expedition routes.
Alpullu (Sinanlı) Bridge
It was built in the mid-16th century during the Sokullu period. It is one of the most magnificent bridges made by architect Koca Sinan. It has a pointed arch. Sinan also used the 76 cm long single piece face stones that constitute this large arch. Archstone of this width is not found on any other bridge. The length of these stones reaches 2.5 meters. The cornice profile is identical, and the exterior faces are joined by bond stone.
Pehlivanköy Akarca Bridge
It is located on the Ergene River on the Uzunköprü-Edirne road. It was built to overcome the abundant water of the Ergene River, which was an obstacle during the expansion of the Ottoman Empire from Anatolia to the Balkans. The bridge was built with a total of 7 arches around the large round arche in the centre. The bridge is still in use until today. According to the inscription, whose top half is broken and therefore has no date, the exact year of construction is not known. However, considering the construction method, material and purpose of use, it is most probably the 16th century.
According to hearsay, the bridge was built by a master named Pavlu. However, despite all efforts, it was not possible to fasten the vault in the centre. It is also rumoured, that the master, who built the bridge, suggested that it was only possible to save the central vault through sacrificing and burying a brave man into the wall. So, as a last remedy, they decided to draw lots among the women, who brought the food to them, and to sacrifice the one, who would be drawn. Unfortunately, the woman, who drew the lot, had just given birth to a child and was nursing her baby. Still, the woman was sacrificed the next day, and buried into the vault. Eventually the vault was completed. Therefore, it is said, that every Friday night a crying woman can be heard at the abutment, and that milk drops from between two stones.
Cave Monasteries of Vize
These are Byzantine period artifacts in the Vize Asmakayalar District. They were formed by stonemasons using a number of sequential natural caves. The presence of rock tombs with similar features in its immediate vicinity also stands out. Part of the monastery is being used as a barn.
It is located in the Koyunbaba village in the central district of Kırklareli, where Bulgarians and Turks used to live together during the Ottoman period. The church is partially intact. The church has architectural features from the second half of the 19th century. Its face stones are hammer dressed, and the corner stones are framed. Part of the roof has collapsed. The church was open to Christian Bulgarians in the time when Bulgarians lived in Koyunbaba Village. The church was abandoned after the Bulgarians left the village due to the Population Exchange in 1924.
Kırklareli Kadı Mosque
It is situated in the centre of Kırklareli. The mosque, which was built in 1577 (H.985), is still in use and has a square plan. It is called Kadi Mosque because of a court that was previously located nearby. The structure is also called Emin Ali Çelebi Mosque. The walls are covered with dressed limestone on three facades. The jambs and pediments of the lower row windows are made of limestone and of very good workmanship. The embossed rosettes on the discharging arches close to the tapering of arches are the only embellishment features of the mosque. The ceiling and roof are wooden, with four ridges, and covered with Turkish style tiles. Its minaret is adjacent to the mosque and has a polygonal log.
According to existing written sources, there are 15 traditional fountains in the city center of Kırklareli, but only 4 of them survived. Two of the fountains that have survived have been moved to a different place.
The following are some of them:
The fountain was built in 1622. The single-sided wall fountain in a square plan scheme was placed in the western corner of the courtyard wall of the Pasha Mosque in the Kocahıdır District, and was made of cut limestone. There is a single tap on the slab placed in a low pointed arched niche. The keystone of the Arch is protruding outwards. The fountain is very plain, and only ornamented on its eaves and on the slab.
The fountain was built in 1772 in Karacaibrahim District. Built as a corner fountain with a rectangular plan scheme, the water is provided from the tap placed in a round-arch niche on the single side of the fountain. In this niche, the building inscription of the fountain was placed on a level near the top of the arch, hobnails on both sides of the arch and a repair inscription on the top. On the front facade of the fountain, which is covered with a vault above the water tank, there is a fringe that forms a triangular pediment.
The fountain located in the Karakaş District was built in the second half of the 19th century. The prison building, after which the square fountain which two facades was named, was built adjacent to the fountain in later years. Currently only one side of the two-sided fountain whith round arched niches on both sides is in use. Some of the arch keystones are worked in a rectangular shape protruding outwards. The corners of the fountain are shaped with rounded pilasters and a double row of profiled fringe mouldings.
Hızırbey Hamam (Double Hamam)
Hamam is located in the center of Kırklareli, on the Cumhuriyet (republic) Square. It was built in 1383 (H. 785) and repaired in 1683, and still functioning. The outer face of the walls is covered with hammer dressed finished limestone. The lanterns of the dome are worked of limestone and are remarkable. Hamam was built adjacently together with the arasta bazaar.
Lüleburgaz Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Hamam
It was built between 1569-1570, together with the Lüleburgaz Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Complex, which was built by Mimar Koca Sinan on the orders of Sokullu Mehmet Pasha. It is currently being restored by the municipality to be used as a city museum. It is a double bath, consisting of separate sections for men and women, in the Turkish classical hamam type. The building is domed, and was built together with 11 shops around it in order to create income.
The Yayla neighbourhood in Kırklareli is home to a number of mansions dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. While some of these structures have been repurposed and opened to the public, others still serve as residences. The most well-known of the Ottoman-style mansions is the Kırklareli Culture and Art House, which was converted into the City Memory Museum. The building is an important centre witnessing the rich history of the city with written, visual and auditory narratives, as well as wax statues. The district is also home to a replica of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s home in Thessaloniki. At Atatürk House, which features the same architectural plan as the Atatürk House in Thessaloniki, there is an entry hall, a kitchen, a military study room, a study room, a bedroom, a bathroom and sections for both Atatürk and the children of the house.
The Dodoğlu Mansion and the Ali Rıza Efendi Culture House are two other mansions that are in the Yayla district and deserve appreciation by the public. While the Dodoğlu Mansion, which dates from the 19th century, served as an administrative building, the Ali Rıza Efendi Culture House has hosted Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish families throughout its history and now displays their common heritage. In the building, which is the heir to Greek, Bulgarian and Montenegrin cultures, a room is reserved for each.
Another point of interest in the district is İstasyon Street. The street is worth exploring for its parks, particularly the fragrant linden trees.