Myths, Ottoman history and mesmerizing sunflowers of Kırklareli


As I continue to describe our journey through Kırklareli, I can’t help but hope that you will travel to this city that you may not even have heard of, to see for yourself, if not for anything other than the sunflowers.

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After the floodplain forests in Kırklareli, you can see the Iğneada lighthouse and continue your way a little further to stop at Beğendik village.

Although Beğendik is a border village, it has no border gate.

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You can wave to the Bulgarian village of Rezovo on the opposite side of the coast and see the flags of two different countries flying very close to each other. Those wishing to enter Bulgaria from here can use the Dereköy border gate, the nearest border gate which is about 2 1/2 hours away.

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The Sunflowers of Kırklareli, Türkiye.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The Sunflowers of Kırklareli, Türkiye. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

Beğendik village has a long beach on the Black Sea coast. It is possible to swim in the sea when the fierce waves of the Black Sea allow it.

The road to the beach ends with a military sign, but you can reach the beach by continuing to the right. This military sign and wires extend further along the border between Bulgaria and Turkey.

You should come to Beğendik beach after preparing some food and drink. Makeshift huts have toast, ayran, and water, but that’s about it. It is best to swim when the sea is calm and without waves. The beach is very long and also ideal for those seeking tranquility. It is forbidden to pitch a tent on the beach, but there are great tenting and camping spots nearby.

Even if you don’t dip your toes in the sea, you can also throw your chairs on the beach and have a drink here, accompanied by the fierce waves of the Black Sea.

The village of Beğendik in Kırklareli, Türkiye.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The village of Beğendik in Kırklareli, Türkiye. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

Another historical address to stop by on the way back is Demirköy Fatih Foundry.

This is considered to be the first wartime industrial center of the Ottoman Empire.

The foundry where the şahi guns – or the Great Turkish Bomb, originally designed by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II and used to breach the Byzantine walls during the conquest of Istanbul – were cast, is currently run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism restored .

Dupnisa Cave can be your last stop to visit after Foundry and from where you can go to Kırklareli Center.

You can visit the Dupnisa Cave, the first and only cave in Thrace open to tourism, between eight in the morning and five in the afternoon.

The cave houses a continuously flowing underground river alongside rock formations. The white, red and brown stalactites, stalagmites and sometimes huge columns trigger admiration and shudder at the same time.

The historical foundry Demirköy Fatih in Kırklareli, Türkiye.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The historical foundry Demirköy Fatih in Kırklareli, Türkiye. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The atmosphere of the cave varies greatly over short distances. It’s also useful to bring something with long sleeves when entering the cave, which is quite humid and chilly in places.

You can easily visit the cave, which has a 450-meter walkway and lighting.

The cave is also the breeding ground for many different species of bats.

The dry part of the cave, which consists of two floors and three sections in total, is kept closed to breeding bats at certain times of the year, which is usually between November 15th and May 15th. The dry cave section is also a sanctuary for bat species.

You can easily visit these places, which are very close to each other, in two or three days by planning a reasonable route. In addition, you can also visit the Monastery of St. Nicholas of Kıyıköy, Cehennem (Hell) Waterfalls and Vize Castle, all of which are located near this destination.

The historical foundry Demirköy Fatih in Kırklareli, Türkiye.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The historical foundry Demirköy Fatih in Kırklareli, Türkiye. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

At the same time, you can include in your itinerary a place where you can feel the city air after such a natural environment: the town of Lüleburgaz, which is about an hour away from the center of Kırklareli. You can eat soup in one of the famous Lüleburgaz soup shops and take a walk on the famous Istanbul Street.

Those who consider historical textures indispensable in their travels can visit Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Complex and Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Bridge, spread over a very wide area.

Sometimes cities you have never heard of can offer you an unexpected and unforgettable travel experience. Therefore, make a note of the name “Kırklareli”.

The town of Lüleburgaz in Kırklareli, Türkiye.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The town of Lüleburgaz in Kırklareli, Türkiye. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

At the same time, you should definitely make this trip in July. Because in July, the sunflowers, which are one of the livelihoods of Thrace, begin to bloom. On the way to Thrace you will see yellow fields on both sides. These are the sunflower fields.

Here they call sunflowers “solstice” or “sunseeker”. Each of these flowers seems to me to have a different expression for some reason. It’s like they’re all different characters and they’re talking to me. Some laugh, some frown, some are sad, some are curious. When I’ve stopped along the way to take a picture, I always want to take a picture with each one individually. I’m sure you’ll want to stop more than once and take lots of photos with these delicate blondes.

There is a legend surrounding these beautiful flowers.

The god of art, music and the sun, Apollo was fascinated by the melody of a song he heard while walking on the shores of Pytya.

He followed the sound and saw a young woman collecting pearls on the bank.

Apollo watches the woman for a long time and is very impressed by her. Finally he shows up and they meet. The young woman’s name is Klytie, and she is not a princess or a fairy, as Apollo had imagined, but just a mortal country girl who takes care of her ailing father by selling pearls.

The Sunflowers of Kırklareli, Türkiye.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The Sunflowers of Kırklareli, Türkiye. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

Apollo immediately heals the girl’s father.

The two lovers spend a long time full of love together.

However, Apollo knows that as an immortal god he cannot remain bound to Klytie forever and loses his heart to another woman. He persuades Klytie to visit her father, whom she has not seen for a long time.

Apollo leaves Klytie there and never returns.

Every day Klytie waits for the next day to rise in case Apollo comes.

Days pass and Klytie dies heartbroken.

She confronts Zeus. Zeus says to her: “You sacrificed yourself for Apollo. Do you love him so much?”

The young woman says without hesitation: “I would fall in love with him again if I went down to earth again.”

Zeus is very impressed by what he hears and makes a decision.

“I send you to earth as a sunflower.

“When Apollo appears in the sky, face him until the sun goes down.”

First, Klytie’s body withers and turns into a twig.

A flower covered with yellow petals blooms on her head.

She becomes the first sunflower, a flower that constantly turns its head toward the sun and cranes its neck when the sun goes down.

After that, a rhyme was even created for the sunflower: “Sunflower, sun worshiper, singed with love fled to black smoke” – admittedly the rhyme doesn’t translate that well into English.

I don’t know, maybe this legend shaped my attitude towards sunflowers, but I do this route every July just to see the sunflowers.

Embarking on this journey, your journey that started in the arms of the yellow fields full of beautiful and loving flowers will continue at the foot of the Strandzha Mountains.

I believe that this journey between greenery, streams, forests and basically in the lap of nature with its wonderful views along the way and its civilized, cultured and happy people will be very good for you.



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